An Open Letter to Donald Trump Jr. From A 19-Year-Old Muslim American

Refugees are people, not Skittles.

Dear Donald Trump Jr.,

I hope that this letter finds you well. My name is Amara Majeed, a 19-year-old Muslim American student at Brown University. Mr. Trump, I recently read your distasteful comparison of Syrian refugees to poisonous skittles. I am writing to let you know why I find your statement to be so virulent.

The Syrian civil war devolved from peaceful protests against the Assad regime in 2011 to violent insurgency. A multitude of foreign and internal powers are intervening with their own vested interests in the country, leaving millions of innocent civilians destitute, powerless, and caught in the crossfire of a deadly civil war. As a result, Syrians comprised of the largest percentage of refugees in 2015.

This tweet only serves to exacerbate preexisting fears that individuals like your father have incited.

Mr. Trump, your statement is demonizing individuals that are fleeing from some of the same terrorist organizations that you are insinuating they are a part of. This tweet only serves to exacerbate preexisting fears that individuals like your father have incited. I am consistently disheartened when I hear what he has to say about Syrian refugees. He has claimed that they will decrease Americans’ quality of life, that many of them are members of ISIS, and that he has “absolutely no problem” with “looking Syrian children in the face” and asking them to go back to where they came from. Ultimately, these sort of statements create an atmosphere of fear, paranoia, and irrationality—they cause people to harden their hearts and turn away individuals in need.

Mr. Trump, with all due respect, you didn’t do anything to earn the life you were born into. You didn’t earn the privilege of being a white male, you didn’t earn the privilege of living in the United States, you didn’t earn the privilege of being the son of the most notably wealthy men (and he doesn’t let us forget it!) in America. I know that from your extremely privileged, white male standpoint, this may be difficult for you to conceptualize—but these people didn’t choose to be born into the lives that they live.

Mr. Trump, these are not just numbers. These are not just statistics. These are not just Skittles.

They didn’t choose to be forced to flee from their homes.

There are approximately 5 million Syrian refugees.

They didn’t choose to be internally displaced.

Over 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced.

They didn’t choose to be killed.

A unbelievable 470,000 deaths have been caused by the conflict. Over 11% of the country’s total population has been wounded or killed since the onset of the Syrian civil war.

They didn’t choose to be powerless.

Over 85% of the population is living in poverty, with almost 70% living in extreme poverty. Over half of the population is jobless.

These children didn’t choose to be orphans.

More than half of all Syrian refugees are children.

Mr. Trump, these are not just numbers. These are not just statistics. These are not just Skittles. These are the victims of the humanitarian crisis of our decade.

I don’t know why I was born into this life—I don’t know why I was born into a life in which I don’t have to constantly worry about the safety of myself and my family, a life in which I don’t have this ubiquitous sense of trepidation when I think of what my next meal will be, a life that sometimes must not feel like one worth living because of the continual grievances of war. I don’t know why I was born into this life in which I live as a young woman studying at an elite university in the United States, a life in which my only understanding of war and violence is from textbooks and media sources—and not the life of an orphaned Syrian child, rotting in a refugee camp with traumatizing testimonies of oppression and heartbreak. I didn’t do anything to deserve this life, and that is something that I consistently try to be cognizant of. I am lucky. You are lucky. As a lucky, privileged individual—who are you to turn away and vilify individuals that weren’t lucky enough to be born into the life that you were born into? A life in which your greatest source of injustice may be a bad business deal, or having the person that irons your pants do so in a subpar way?

Mr. Trump, saying that the victims of the humanitarian crisis is akin to poisonous candy disturbs me on a very personal level. Your tweet is indicative of a lack of sympathy and a myopic understanding of the situation in Syria. I implore you to think of think carefully about the implications of your statement.

Sincerely,

Amara Majeed

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