“Move to your homeland.”
It’s 11:31 p.m., and I’m sitting here reading these words as they appear on my computer screen through my e-mail. I cringe as I read these words because I realize that I will never be considered an American as long I keep my last name or adhere to my religion that I so dearly love.
I am told to tough it out, to ignore these e-mails, and, in some cases, others have blatantly explained to me that these bigots are correct. So, naturally, I build a wall to block out all of the hateful words and comments that are purposefully e-mailed to me, words that are intended to attack my very being.
But even the strongest wall will cave under pressure.
“Why don’t you preach about your ‘peaceful’ religion and how you are outraged that people of your faith in the Middle East have tarnished it?”
I begin to lose faith in the University of Michigan community when I see that Jim Harbaugh has tweeted his support of the showing of “American Sniper” and that my Facebook friends are encouraging the movie to be shown. As a Muslim American woman from Iraq, I have never felt safe in my own skin, my own home or in my own country.
But I have never felt more unsafe than I do now.
“You are just pissed off that YOUR PEOPLE decided to attack us and WE are fighting for FREEDOM.”
The University decided to show the movie, which it has a right to do, and students have the right to agree or disagree with it. However, to show the movie at an event like UMix, where no discussion will take place afterwards is sure to increase anti-Muslim/Arab/minority hate. The showing will cause me and my fellow peers to feel even more unsafe in a town that we call home.
There are people claiming that Muslims have to be OK with being uncomfortable due to free speech, but do they not understand that unsafe and uncomfortable are two different feelings? I grew up learning that a Muslim in America has to be OK with being uncomfortable. I walked around with my grandma who wore a hijab and had to be OK with being uncomfortable when people stared at her. I used to go the airport yearly and had to be OK with being uncomfortable when they asked me if my mother was really my mother or if she was trying to kidnap me.
Trust me; I have known uncomfortable.
But I have also known unsafe. This past year, Deah, Yusor and Razan (three beautiful and bright Muslims) were killed in their own home because of their religion with little to no outrage from the public, further enforcing the idea that I am unsafe on a college campus.
Months before, a young Somali boy was purposefully run over by a vehicle, and I immediately thought of how unsafe and unwelcome Muslims have felt in these moments of tragedy that seem to define our community in America.
I believe in the American ideal that we all have the right to live in safety, and I just want to be granted this right.
So often I am told that Americans have universal rights, but I am so quickly reminded after that I am considered not an American because of my cultural differences, Iraqi origin or beliefs in Islam. This is not the America that I am proud of. Right now, I am just exhausted, disappointed and utterly speechless.
“YOU ALL ARE DESPICABLE AND SHOULD BE ASHAMED. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY WHAT WE CAN AND CAN’T WATCH. GOD BLESS AMERICA.”
I love my country, but it does not love me.
Editor’s note: The author of this piece asked to use only her first name due to safety concerns.