Dear Mr. Trump: I Am An American Muslim

I am the girl who grew into a woman who had to bury her identity to pass through life without judgement.

Dear Mr. Trump:

I am an American Muslim.

When I think of you, all I see is black. Wet, sticky darkness like silicone or tar. Sharp. Piercing. Jagged.

I think of you and my skin feels like it has a steam burn. That unrelenting pain.

I wanted to name my MacBook “Isis” after the goddess. I wanted to give her a name that let her fit in the pantheon of my possessions, gave her rank above my other goddess objects, but realized I can’t. I can’t be naming her after a terror organization. Isis is a goddess, but I can’t name my MacBook after her because of terrorists. Because of you.

I feel like it’s pointless to even speak about or tell this story. No one cares. You will just disregard me because I said I’m Muslim.

Why care about my story or what happened to me? My family fled from terror to settle in America. My parents came here to raise me free and safe. But why share when Americans are all, “Yay! We have Trump! Our new Hitler. Our new Putin!”?

Mr. Trump, today my son asked me if he could deny that I am Muslim. He wants to know if you are going to put me in a database or a concentration camp.

I told him I am afraid our society will allow it.

My son wants me to get baptized for protection.

I am not a pious woman. I believe, but I have made my own relationship with faith that doesn’t include labeling myself. I’m a believer, but in God, goodness, and compassion, not the rules.

Mr. Trump, my story matters. History, herstory, my story repeats itself.

I am that child. Clinging to my parents afraid, confused, embarrassed, and ashamed. Boarding yet another flight with eyes peering through me. Aware of the whispers. Smelling the tension. The fear. The hate. Hugging my Fievel stuffed plush given to me by Santa while in Saudi Arabia.

I am the daughter who asked her father “How does Santa come to the desert?” His response: “Look, Shar Shar. See the sweat? By the time he gets here he is so skinny. He has sweat so much he takes an entire year to get plump. That is why Santa has a belly. He needs to travel far to find all the good kids.”

I am the child who asked, “What about those kids in the tents. Will they get toys? Will the men with guns let Santa in?” His reply: “Yes, of course. Don’t worry about those kids. I left them Cadbury chocolates in case Santa was late.”

I am the girl who recorded Peter Jennings broadcasting the news to practice my English diction, eliminating any trace of a foreign accent.

I am the child who was born in America because it was safer than Lebanon.

I am the girl who visited refugees. I saw with my own eyes young children with nothing but the bare necessities who sought refuge in Lebanon.

I am the teenage girl who boldly approached a soldier with a machine gun to ask if I could leave something for the kids.

I am the girl who grew into a woman who had to bury her identity to pass through life without judgement.

I am the woman who watched as the Twin Towers fell. Who held her breath as the world imploded.

I am the woman who called every customer I had located in the Twin Towers, sending out email after email hoping to connect to at least one.

I am the woman who agonized over the 100s of people I would never speak to again. Emails that would never be read. Messages that would never be answered. The same girl who did not hesitate to write an editorial immediately afterward to condemn such attacks.

I am the woman who chose to speak up against anyone who would say this was Islam.

I am the youngest daughter of a mother who had to flee her home while pregnant because men with guns were slaughtering innocent people.

I am the daughter of a woman who had to hide as her neighbors were executed for their faith.

I am the daughter of a mother who ensured I understood how lucky I was to have been born in America. The daughter who heard the painful story of her father who prayed with a man as he bled to death in the street. The daughter who was lucky enough to have the means to travel the world with her family to find a safe haven.

I was never a refugee. Not like the families America now turns away.

I am the daughter who accepted the differences in others while burying parts of herself.

I am an American.

I am the woman who feels like no matter what I say, stating my faith negates my pride in being American.

I am afraid to speak up. America will bury me for my faith.

Mr. Trump, I see you. You will be holding the shovel.

Shareen Mansfield is the founder and publisher of Open Thought Vortex, an online magazine for everyone. She was a journalist by trade before she turned to publishing. Her writing and work are aimed at expanding compassion in a fearful world. Her writing has recently appeared on RAWr Words and The Honeyed Quill as well as in her magazine. 

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