It’s a good day to be a Muslim woman of color in America. I feel like I can breathe easier. I am sure most of what I am experiencing is psychological because I know nothing concrete has changed. However, I feel happier, liberated. When I went out for the first time after AP announced Joe Biden’s win, I thought to myself, “I don’t feel as suffocated and helpless anymore.”
In the words of Van Jones, Political Commentator at CNN, “It’s easier to be a parent this morning … to tell your kids character matters.”
Our Vice President-elect is Kamala Harris, daughter of immigrants, first Indian American, first Black woman. As an immigrant mother of two daughters, I feel vindicated. It’s undoubtedly a proud moment for me. I can confidently tell my girls that they can be anything they choose to be in America.
For Donald Trump’s supporters who feel lost and angry right now, I hope you can find peace and heal through your pain. However, I cannot sympathize with you because I saw you supporting someone who deliberately denied people like me humanity and dignity for just being different.
Dark Chapter of American History
The last four years of the Trump presidency have been harsh. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) have borne the brunt of it all. Persistent dehumanization and othering of people of color took a toll on the overall mental wellbeing of society. I was traumatized and mentally exhausted. Despite “making it” in America, I felt like a complete outsider.
Granted, I have always regarded myself as simultaneously an insider and an outsider at the intersection of two different cultures. But this was different. I felt judged based on the mischaracterization of my collective Muslim identity rather than my character and accomplishments.
It seems like that dark chapter of American history is behind us and the nation is ready to move forward. However, as we celebrate this victory, we must recognize that we have a long road ahead.
Long Road Ahead
The racism that was unmasked by the vitriolic politics of the last few years will not disappear with an election. Roughly 70 million people still voted for a white supremacist. White supremacy in law enforcement thrives unabated. Five hundred children are missing and asylum seekers at the southern border are in cages.
The makeup of the Supreme Court has shifted decisively to the right, potentially costing women their right to have an abortion and LGBTQ+ people’s right to marry. The Muslim ban is still in place. DACA recipients are waiting for immigration reform. People are still being bankrupted by medical bills.
America is still fighting unnecessary wars and exacerbating humanitarian disasters. The refugee crisis, direct military interventions such as the Iraq War, proxy wars as in the Saudi brutality in Yemen, and its continued status as one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions are but a few examples of our country’s negative footprint around the world.
There are over 80 million uninsured or underinsured Americans. The US has the world’s highest COVID death tally and millions have lost their jobs. The climate crisis has continued to worsen and the country is more divided than ever.
How Do We Truly Move Forward?
For one, let’s dismantle the entrenched racism and fascism that has permeated every segment of our society and led to Trump’s ascendancy. This will not happen overnight.
However, for a start, the media and politicians should play an active part in creating strong narratives that humanize others and calling out racism wherever they see it.
Unfortunately, there is still little debate around what kids are being taught in schools. As a mom, I am sometimes appalled by the reductive narratives kids are learning about the history and culture of non-European people. It’s no surprise that racial hierarchy in America is still a problem. We must rethink the curriculum in schools.
In future elections, democrats should organize at the grassroots level. They did not win the 2020 election because of GOP allies like John Kasich. Instead, they achieved victory because of the unflinching commitment of activists and grassroots organizers.
Lastly, we must start talking about Medicare for all, free education, socio-economic inequities, the climate crisis, and racial injustice. Biden, for the most part, was an anti-Trump candidate. However, to sustain the win, Democrats must talk about issues and deliver on promises. They will not be able to get by through reciting outdated ideology or paying lip service to real problems.
So today we celebrate this win, but tomorrow we get back to work.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.