What This Election Means To Me, An American Muslim

As a Muslim American Woman of Colour I do not have it within me to love my oppressor. I can no longer shy away from the "whitelash" as Vince Jones so passionately and accurately described it on CNN this morning. I feel displaced and utterly unhappy.

After living abroad for the majority of my adult life I began to recognise the micro aggressions I had suppressed growing up. I loved America and being an American, not just for the obvious privileges but because I was taught from Kindergarten that I was in the home of the free and the brave. Even as I stumbled over the words, "land where my fathers died", I sang out louder because I wanted to be a part of the whole. I wanted to belong. So I sang louder, "from every mountainside let freedom ring!" Little did I know that a few years later those very words would mock me as they were used to defend hate speech and the slow eradication of my rights.

It was on 9/11 that I, like many Muslim Americans, began to realise that I was the Other.

That despite my perceived assimilation, I was now someone to be mistrusted or even feared. That just by having certain beliefs I was now different. I was open to educating, I was open to answering questions but I was only in high school and soon my attentions shifted to the trivialities of youth. It was when I was abroad, teaching in the Middle East that I was again reminded of my Other-ness. As nosy locals would repeatedly enquire where I was from, boggled at the idea that a visibly brown woman was identifying as American. Sure I can add the Pakistani hyphen but with the little ties I have, I cannot honestly tie it into a representation of myself. I found myself hardening each time someone would question my cultural background - I could have explained my ethnicity but I knew they weren't asking for the sake of curiosity. The racial undertones made me uncomfortable and I soon returned to the USA with my British husband. 

Now despite the fact that I came back during the Obama administration or perhaps because of it, I could no longer deny the racially unsafe climate in a presumably post racial America. We had a black president but black children, black men were being killed in the streets. The police were no longer public servants, they were executioners. White men were annihilating black boys for existing.

Mass shootings were so common that my focus was less on the victims and more on the identity of the shooter - was he Muslim? 

I found myself apologising, "not all Muslims!", I would cry each time the word terrorist was thrown around in the media.  Until I stopped wanting to apologise, I am not responsible for any person's actions besides myself and my children while they are under my supervision and care. I am not defined by someone else's ideas of me. And I definitely will not bow down to racists, bigots, or people who refuse to educate or enlighten themselves.

Don't get me wrong I love the USA, always will. It is a melting pot and it is not unique in the racism and sexism prevalent there. I have faced similar issues of discrimination all over the world, I just never knew my own country would become the epitome of it.

The candidates failed to see me, a Muslim as anything but a potential terrorist or watchdog. 

During the past few weeks I began to hate Donald Trump, not for his beliefs or stances because I do respect his lack of filter. But because of his perceived right to unequivocally hate whomever he wanted. Mexicans and Muslims were the beginning but the liberal world didn't truly react until he came for the white women. But by then it was too late and Hillary Clinton was too smug. Her bullying Bernie Sanders out, her corruption, her womanhood were fodder for the hatred barely suppressed by the Right. They had tolerate a black president for 8 years and they wanted their justice: to step over people of colour at any cost.

And now we have an obnoxious, ignorant, racist ruler of the free world. At what cost? To me, it's not much. He just confirms the doubt and paranoia I've felt ebbing at my confidence because I am no longer just an American, I am a Muslim Woman of Colour in America.

Comment

Madah J

Madah J is a Muslim American blogger of Pakistani heritage. She currently lives in the UK with her husband and two adorable children. Madah is passionate about social justice, fashion, and sharing her lifestyle.