I was in elementary school when 9/11 changed the fabric of America. I was fortunate to grow up as a witness, not a target of the xenophobia and islamophobia that continues to afflict this nation.
Converting to Islam has been one of my most beautiful life experiences. When I converted in May 2015, I did not anticipate my American identity would be suddenly revoked because of my religious practices.
I began observing hijab in March 2016. I witnessed a very noticeable shift in the way American society perceives me. The confused and scornful gazes intensified. My patriotism and ability to speak English are consistently questioned and doubted.
The misinformation and fear mongering even affected my own family’s understanding Islam and made them fearful of my decision to take part in the religion.
I was born in America. I grew up in America. I will never stop fighting to make America a more perfect union. Yet, in the course of my young adulthood I find myself existing outside an identity I once took for granted.
For those who sit comfortably in Lady Liberty's embrace, I ask you to look at the huddled masses being denied the promise of America. I ask you to reflect on your contributions and silent acceptance of the narratives and rhetoric perpetuating their oppression.