Do not take this lightly. It is not easy reading. Your life is in your hands, and I am trusting you have the courage to stand up and also defend mine in this presidential election.
The year is 2016 and I am a woman.
I am Muslim. I am Mexican American. I am a Mustino (Muslim Latino).
As a triple minority in this presidential election, I am not alone. In fact, The Pew Research Center writes that there are currently about 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. In Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach alone there are roughly 100,000 Muslims, and approximately 3,000 of the Ummah are my Latino brothers and sisters.
We are a growing demographic, and it is time that we stand up and be counted. We do not have the luxury of staying home and watching it all on television while Senator Ted Cruz is proposing to patrol Muslim neighborhoods, Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher is feeding the islamophobia movement by closing down a voting site at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and steadfastly refusing to reopen it, and Donald Trump is suggesting that the government starts a database of Muslims. They laugh about building a wall, and making Mexico pay for it, and while they are out there organizing and proposing, I have just one question for you: where are the Mustinos?
As one of many triple minorities in South Florida I cringe when I hear racist arguments building. Most recently I read, “Mexican Americans are not really Americans.”
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana and is currently presiding over two lawsuits against Trump University in California, is being labeled as un-American and is targeted because his parents were born in Mexico. All he has ever known has been on this side of the border. Why his heritage is leveling him as anyone’s adversary is beyond comprehension.
This ethnic intolerance should not have a platform in any election, let alone one in the United States. For a country that has survived slavery, segregation, and managed to advance economic development for many minorities, will we now stand idly by while the spirit of resentment in this election inspires whites to dislike non-whites? I do not want to wake up back in 1932 when a man named Adolf held similar values. We cannot stay home while candidates who seek to represent us in the global arena feed the masses with these antiquated notions.
I ask the parents of any children born on American soil: do you think that the children you gave birth to in the United States are not American?
My family has been crossing the Mexican border, back and forth, since 1592 – about 200 years before it was even a legal border. We have roots on both sides on the Rio Grande and we fought for this flag, owned property, and settled townships in the United States. By historical definition alone, I am as American as apple pie. The fact that we hold on to our Mexican culture, generation after generation, does not make us immigrants. From my grandmother’s kitchen to Taco Bell, I am American. My people came from somewhere just like everyone else here who is not a Native American Indian. Are you sitting at home comfortably being called a minority on your own land? Being a minority does not mean you have minor impact. I know when I am being bullied. Do you?
Ronald Reagan said, “America is a melting pot, and education has been a mainspring for our democracy and freedom…”Jimmy Carter took it a step further, “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” But have you heard any of this during this presidential race? It does not appear as if we have managed to melt together at all.
As a Mustino American I pray to Allah. Most people in the West know him as God. They are one and the same. Why am I being segregated by a linguistic branding? It seems like an uninformed plow to isolate Muslims, making others think that we are worshipping an idol, and it is a very aggressive way of dehumanizing us in the eyes of the public. Do I not have the right to talk to Allah in the country of my birth?
Mustinos, I ask you all these questions because we need to wake up. We have to build up the confidence to be comfortable with our Latino culture and our Spanglish, while we seek each other out for strength and support. We will not be minorities for very long.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is expected that by the year 2040 Islam will become the second-largest religious group in the United States, and by 2060 Latinos are expected to make up 29% of the United States population. That seems like positive progress, but I do not want to wait 44 years to feel like I am in my own country. This is our America too.
So, I am calling out to all Mustinos. Stand up my Ummah.
El tiempo es ahora. (The time is now.)
El momento esta en esta elección presidencial. (The moment is in this presidential election.)
El poder esta en tu voto. (The power is in your vote.)
Any other double, triple, and quadruple minorities who are waking up to the reality of being an American at this time in our nation’s history – join us. Have the courage to stand up and vote. Just as a swarm of bees has greater strength when united, so can our voices call out to the rest of our brothers and sisters and bring about positive change.
Do not wait by until you become a majority. Do not sit in silence as a minority.