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Disclaimer: I, the author of this article, am not Mariah - the person being discussed. I am only a writer with opinions on the issue.
It is no surprise that following the November 8th election, minorities have reunited all over the United States in mutual fear of a new sense of oncoming chaos and in preparation for a new battle. And we have every right to do so.
Only seven days following Donald Trump’s election, reports of incidents of street harassment, threats of vandalism, emotional and physical abuse, and school and work discrimination have exceeded the number of reports following the disaster of 9/11, with the Southern Poverty Law Center receiving more than 200 hate crimes since Election Day.
And one of the Atlanta’s Muslim community’s victims was right in the center of it all. Mariah Teli, a teacher at Dacula High School in Dacula, Georgia, discovered the letter in her classroom on Friday. The alarming note was scrawled in disturbing black-ink handwriting and included hand drawn pictures of the American flag.
The letter read: “Mrs Teli: Your headscarf isn’t allowed anymore. Why don’t you tie it around your neck and hang yourself with it - off your neck instead of your head.” It was signed “America!”.
Mairah, only 24 years old, believes that the letter was triggered by Trump’s success following the 2016 U.S. election period and his dishonorable victory. She fears that this is only a sign of an upsurge in hate crimes and a universal violent detestation against Muslims in America. Publishing the sinister letter in hopes of raising awareness of our current degrading and shameful ambience of our society, Mariah ends the Facebook post by promising that “Spreading hate isn't going to "make America great again."”
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, believes the surge in hate crimes are inspired by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, as he told USA Today, “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats.” Although minorities are no painfully aware that a good majority of our nation is fueled by ignorance and racial hatred, the issue is not Trump: it is his rhetoric which validated the racist, xenophobic, and supremacist values, opinions, and actions of this perturbing majority.
While Mariah’s first hand witnessing of a post-Trump society, many others around the nation have felt the terror. A Spanish church in Maryland found their church signed vandalized, with “TRUMP NATION WHITES ONLY” plastered on the sign and a brick wall near the church’s memorial garden. In New York, swastikas were drawn on student dorms at the New School on Saturday. In Pennsylvania, black students of the University of Pennsylvania were added to a racist GroupMe message on Friday, with the group being bombarded with racist messages using slurs, photos of lynchings, and calendar invites to “daily lynching” events. And in Michigan, a man threatened a Muslim student at the University of Michigan to remove her hijab, or he would set it on fire with a lighter. This is only a small summary of the hundreds and hundreds of hate crimes currently corrupting our nation - all in the single week since Donald Trump’s win.
And in response to these incident, we as a nation must listen to each other’s stories. And we must work together in battling every stereotype against every victim, and continue fighting for the values that this nation was once founded by and built upon. We can not allow hate to triumph in the battle we will wage against ignorance.
We must believe in breaking down the walls that separate us rather than building them to increasingly segregate our communities. And with the mentality of building the bridges that unite us rather than burning them to divide our country any further, we will take back a nation that has always been known for its freedom, demand for justice, and appreciation of diversity.
Alaa Elassar is the managing editor of AtlantaMuslim.com and works for CNN International as a writing and production intern. A junior at Georgia State University and a political science and journalism double major, Alaa's writing and passions surround justice and politics.
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