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Second Generation Arab American Writes an Open Letter to Her Father

Second Generation Arab American Writes an Open Letter to Her Father

Author Nusaiba Mubarak by

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You took me to my first Democratic Party meeting when I was 11 years old (although you had voted, regrettably, for President Bush five years earlier). You taught me that civic engagement is important, and that voting is a social obligation.

"Here, we actually have a voice,” you told me. “Most Americans take that for granted, but we can't."

Baba, you are the reason I eagerly registered to vote when I first turned 18 and you are the reason I proudly voted for the first time in 2012 after anticipating it for so long. You are the reason I actively encouraged my college peers to vote with me, and you are the reason I sought out many political organizations to join.

You taught me by example because you drove long distances to make connections with politicians, you invited local and state candidates to our home, and you pressed your friends to participate and donate to political campaigns while involving me at all times.

You would always say, "We have to put an effort to reach out to them. We can't expect them to represent us if we don't even try to meet them."

You made me proud to call you my Dad. You instilled in me the belief that I can make a difference and I can hold as much power as any other American because equality and freedom are the core values of this country that you made home 34 years ago.

Ten years and a few discriminatory laws and several Race, Gender, and American government courses later, that belief shattered.

Baba, I learned that not all people are equal in this country. I know it might not seem like it on the outside, but in this country there still exists deep traces of racism and sexism.

I have also witnessed political events shape my country's policies. I watched as politicians with whom you made relationships break your trust. I have seen tears roll down your face as you watched our country's foreign policy in-action on Arabic news channels. I watched as innocent American Muslims and Palestinian activists were detained unjustly, and even held in solitary confinement.

Daddy, I know you felt betrayed by the man you voted for as he passed laws that allowed the indefinite detention of American citizens. I know you know that those laws are aimed at us. Your name is stamped on "Jihadi watch" lists and sometimes you're not treated fairly, even though you don't like to admit it. You're afraid for our lives after a "terrorist" shooting and you ask me not to go to school that day, and you might seem overprotective but you have every reason to be.

I discovered that there were Muslims before us, too, who also struggled. They built mosques and schools like you, Dad. They faced discrimination and hardship like us. They tried to unite the Muslim community like us. They imagined a united Ummah and connected with Muslim leaders around the world.

They were African American Muslims. They were powerful and they were involved, but they spoke out against discrimination. They were the reason the civil rights movement succeeded. They fought back when they witnessed injustices, as they often did.

There were other African Americans who also struggled and continue to struggle to this day, as do many women, Latinos and Latinas, the working class, and other minorities in the United States.

I know it is important now to acknowledge the injustices that are still occurring, for Muslims as well as women, blacks, Latinos, and other minorities.

I know that's what you would do, Baba. If we align ourselves with these groups, we can get real attention from politicians. If we refuse to accept the unjust practices faced by minorities every day, we can make a real difference. I learned that it doesn't just take building relationships with powerful people. It takes a radical stance that threatens our nation's stability. It takes powerful forces and not just showing face.

The reason we're still facing the PATRIOT Act, SAMs, indefinite detention, and other discriminatory practices is because we're not actively countering them. We need to be the forefront of movements such as Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street because we want justice for all citizens and all people. And before you ask, Dad, yes you will need to make a Twitter account.

You were right, Baba, that we need to be civically engaged and take a political stance. But we need to take a step further.

We need to adjust our message, not just as peaceful Muslims who engage the American political process, but as Muslims, women, Blacks, Latinos, and other minorities who work to dismantle the unjust forces, policies, and practices that we continuously face. I have hope for the future. I have hope that with this newfound unity we will achieve justice and find peace. I have hope that people will not be seen as threats for the color of their skin or the religious symbols they wear. I have hope that all people will be treated with dignity and not exploited and used.

Together, united, we can achieve these hopes and dreams.

Thank you, Baba. It's because of you that I have found this message, and thanks to you, I will spend the rest of my life fighting for it.

Nusaiba Mubarak was born and raised in Panama City, FL and moved to Atlanta, GA in 2012, where she currently lives with her husband and cat. Nusaiba is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology at Georgia State University. She is an activist in her community and promotes dialogue to clear misconceptions about Islam. Nusaiba is involved in organizing and participating in projects to raise awareness on topics such as Muslims in America, Muslim contributions to society, and most importantly, Muslim women. @Nusi22.

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