When filling out any background information on myself, I am supposed to mark “White/Caucasian” regarding my race. However, my White is not the same as your White.
I do not look like you. I did not grow up with my holidays being recognized nationally. I do not eat the same foods as you do. I do not get treated the same as you do.
Instead, I get called a terrorist. A camel jockey. A jihadi. An ISIS sympathizer. I get asked if my marriage was arranged. If I’m married to my cousin. If things just so happen to “blow up” when I’m around.
My experience growing up was very different than yours. You were not told to no longer speak your native tongue in public after 9/11. You have not been told, “Unfortunately we will be learning about Islam tomorrow in class.” You have not been detained in airports time and time again. You have not been told to “go back to your country” even though I was born and raised here. You do not hear members of your community and culture being called rapists. You do not wonder where your refugee family will sleep tonight.
You do not see the friendly smiles evaporate off of people’s faces after they quizzically ask “what are you” only to realize, you are not what they thought you were. Smiles turn to looks of disgust after that question has been answered.
Therefore, you do not get to tell me that there is nothing to fear with our new President-Elect. It is not him I fear, it is you. I fear being a subject of harassment. I fear being required to wear a badge. I fear being required to register as a Muslim so that I can be tracked. I fear for my family. I fear for my future children. I fear having to listen and politely laugh through every racist joke that is made in my direction.
But most of all, I fear myself. I fear myself for being ashamed of who I am. I fear the fact that I now know that my White is not the same as your White. Your White is accepted and welcomed as “American”…mine is not.