I can’t protect you, but I will always love you.
Right now, you run with the same glee into the arms of undocumented immigrants, of Muslims, of members of the LGBTQ+ community, of those with different abilities, of men, of women, of beautiful faces of all different identities. You run into the arms of love.
I pray that you never lose that inclination.
You can’t read yet, but I write this for when you can ― for when you want to understand the gravity of this moment.
Two days ago, our country voted to elect a man who has systematically called for the vilification of all the intersections of the ways that you identify. You might one day ask me how this happened, and the truth is sis ― I can’t say that I know.
What I can say though is that there are lessons to be learned, that there is a future for you in this country, and that there is immense work to be done.
What I can say is that I love you always for the American-Muslim 2-year-old girl that you are.
Right now, you love “Maya the Bee,” Princess Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog,” and the soundtrack of “Frozen.” You love the freedom of being able to run around, to be silly and to laugh uncontrollably. You love being you around those that you love.
May you never lose that love.
I don’t even know where to start in regards to explaining what is currently happening in our country.
There’s an abundance of commentary out there that inshAllah you one day read, but this letter is about you.
I cried last night thinking about the America that you will grow up in. In the two days, there have been countless reports of sexual assault, racially motivated violence and harassment against minorities throughout this country. People are using the results of the election to assert that we do not belong.
I am here to tell you that you belong, and you always will.
There are those that believe that this election is inconsequential, that are calling my critiques of this country un-American, and they do not value us.
I am here to assert your worth.
When I was in fourth grade, I cried tears of joy when President Barack Obama was elected. His victory was a reminder that every person in this country belongs. Two days ago, I wept when President-elect Donald Trump was announced. His victory was a reminder that so many feel we do not belong.
I am not trying to tell you that a majority of this country hates you ― that is far from the case. But rather, there is a majority of this country that will trivialize your experience for their own selfish gain.
Rather, there is an uphill battle to feeling proud in your own skin. Rather, there are those who do not understand the weight of the reality where walking out of your own home is terrifying. Rather, there are those who do not understand you, and have made no effort to do so.
It is our job to change that.
I grew up in a flawed America within the confines of our imperfect democracy, but I grew up with hope. I do not agree with President Barack Obama or Secretary Hillary Clinton on every issue, but they empowered me. So much so that I’ve had the chance to go to the White House three times, to intern for the President’s US Department of State, and to engage with both leaders personally.
When I was crying last night, it pained me to know that no matter how hard you work, you will not be afforded that same validation in the near future.
You turn 3 in January, and I need you to know that President Barack Obama will still be our President. I will teach you to say his name. I will make you remember his legacy. I will ensure you know he is who represents the future of this country.
You are two now, but there is still a glass ceiling for your future. I will teach you about Hillary Clinton, Shirley Chisholm, and Ilhan Omar. Today is a day of sorrow, but I will teach you to dream in a world that is thirsting for progress.
When you are distraught with our current reality, there are people who are going to tell you to be quiet, to quit being political, and to actively be complacent. I am telling you to not listen to them. I am telling you to keep on being brilliant even in the face of uncertainty.
I thought about applying to international universities after Trump won, but I’ve chosen to say because we can never give them what they want. America will not be white again, but rather it will continue to thrive because of our diversity. Trump might become our President, but you are the present ― you are the future.
You cry now when you see that one of us is sad, when you want something, or when the world knocks you down (physically). I am asking you to keep on crying out when people are suffering, when you are demanding justice, and when people try to belittle your benefit to this world.
Today, I am scared.
I’m scared for a country where hate has been empowered, where policy will be enacted for the purpose of inhibiting minority experience, and where people still don’t get it. I’m scared for a country that will tell you to calm down for demanding your rights. I’m scared for a country that will limit your limitless potential because your last name is “Ahmed.” I’m scared for a country that elected to promote rape culture. I’m scared for a country that is calling for Kumbaya instead of liberation.
Sis, I’m scared for your future, but I promise we are going to be OK.
I bawled, but now we organize. I will continue to uplift disenfranchised communities, to educate about reality, and to push the envelope. I will fight for the right of you and every member of your generation to be yourself. I will advocate against policies that will repeal all the progress our country has made. I will campaign for candidates at every level that believe in the promise of we. I will work to the ends of the earth to create an America that is rooting for you.
I won’t lie to you though, I can’t protect you. You will face hatred, bigotry and injustice, and I can’t protect you. When I was younger, I thought that my advocacy would be enough to change millions of minds, but I’m no longer so optimistic.
I still have hope though because I might not be able to protect you, but I will cultivate your confidence, I will prepare you for the ugliness that exists in this world, and I will believe.
I believe that you will never need a “man” to protect you, a guise to hide under, or a filter to your truth. I believe that you being the silly, smart and savvy human that you are will always be enough, and the power that is within that will always be limitless even in a country that tries to limit you.
Baby sis, Trump did not make America great again, but when I look into your eyes ― I still believe in the promise that one day we can be great ― our future might literally depend on it.
With Love Always,
Your Cautiously Pragmatic Big Brother