With sleep-deprived eyes and a shaking voice, my 14-year-old football running-back son asked me at 1:40 am today, “Mumma, if Donald Trump wins will we have to leave the country because we are Muslims?”
“Of course not,” I answered with the parental reassuring tone implying not to worry, we grown-ups got this. Not entirely convinced he continued, “But Mumma, where will we go if we are asked to leave? This is my home, I was born here.”
“We will not go anywhere Miku, unless of course it is a place you approve,” I replied jokingly. Gave him a kiss and told him to go to bed as he had a Latin test the next day.
My daughter, a freshman at college, called crying, “Mumma, what will happen to minorities, Muslims, LGBTQI, Hispanics and anyone who is not part of Trump’s new America? What about my right as a woman?” Espousing her newly thought-out theories, she gave me a lecture on oppression. I listened patiently and told her that she and the millennial generation are the future of this country and they can effect change as activists, etc. She hung up the phone, momentarily convinced by her mom.
In the meantime, my husband and I avoided eye contact lest we expose the pain in our souls to each other, the frustration that we are lying to our kids and to ourselves. That we, in fact, don’t have the answers, that we are fearful of what the future for our kids or for us is in this country we have come to love and call home. What shall we do? Where shall we go? How and where do we even begin?
Today is a new dawn in America’s history. And I think I am not alone when I say that as a Muslim and woman of color I have never been so fearful of my vulnerability and what is yet to come. Yet this is the same country where I discovered my identity as a young feminist. Where I fell in love and met my husband. Where I made lifelong friends. Where I was embraced as a Muslim and through my writing and research continue to deepen my faith. A country that no matter how tough the going got always had our backs. So as we navigate the trajectories of a new America, let us try to heal and come together. Stand up for what is just and for those who cannot or will not be able to stand up for themselves. They can divide us but only in so far as we are not united. And in unity lies strength. So America, it is time to engage in a radical act –- the radical act of love. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” What are you waiting for?