This week was difficult. I was on the train to Brooklyn earlier this week when I heard countless phone alarms sound off. I first thought it was a flash flood warning and not an amber alert given the downpour right before I hopped on the subway.
I pulled out my phone and read the alert on my screen and looked up and immediately noticed a number of faces glaring at me with hints of anger and suspicion.
I'm still collecting my thoughts about those moments, but I can tell you that it didn't feel good for my appearance to almost imprison me. I'll never forget every one of those glares for the rest of my life, nor will my disgust with the alert ever disappear.
I saw dozens of posts on my timeline by Muslim friends and family praying for each other's safety. Some said they wanted to stay home, some expressed frustration, and some sadness. I empathized with it all.
It is hard and I can't express that enough.
Donald Trump, Jr. posts a picture of skittles for an analogy on Muslim-related profiling that negates the fact that we are indeed human beings and I can't help but think of how in some eyes, we are both inanimate objects and simultaneous monsters. Anything but one two syllable word: human.
The inequity of life-value of Muslims in the West versus in the East is slowly inching toward a common point. Our status as humans is tied to the refugee, the terrorist, the cockroach -- an ugly irony that supersedes borders, but only in inducing pain.
Irrespective of borders we are the same, and we are safeguarded only by our proximity to the West. We cannot be eradicated wholesale because it's inconvenient. If you are willing to racially profile any group of people, you are not far off from wanting to kill them off as well. History does not lie.
Large decisions made by phone, media, police and politicians affect our day-to-day lives.
Who am I but what they decide I am? What is the value of my life and the truth in my skin today? These are questions that come to mind when an event like this exacerbates the daily erosion of my being.
At times, I find it easy to heal, and at other times I am reminded of how easy and simple it is to find anything but healing.
I've never felt as vulnerable or as mortal as I have these days, and in a way, I find virtue in it because I'm forced to show my truth when I'd otherwise remain silent. I am posting this for no reason other than that I feel I have to in order to explain what it feels like to be Muslim today in America, specifically in and near New York City.
No words are lucid enough to explain what the past 15 years have done to shape my psyche in ways that are harmful and traumatic, but have helped build my character as any form of oppression does.
I've been trying to show love to Muslims I know and random visible Muslims I pass by in the streets. I keep watch when I see a visibly Muslim woman passing me by on the subway because I worry that more family members will have to hear of another death in the community.
I think of what my mother would endure if something were to happen to anyone we know, keeping in mind the pain and fear she has with everything already going on.
I tear when I think of how my religion, my beautiful religion which preaches peace and love and justice is the projected cause of our pain. But I cling to it as I cling to the value in my olive skin and thick beard that was gifted to me by my ancestors.
They both hold beauty and power that cannot be contained or explained in words, especially since I know only a sliver of what I am. Its light shines through.
I hope we find peace and know justice and safety. I pray for it. I pray wholly and deeply. Sending love to those in the area, to my Muslim community, to you all. Sending love.
Originally published on Facebook by Sherif Ibrahim.