The Muslim communities across the nation reached an unspoken agreement after 9/11 that we would teach our children to be brave.
We would explain why the stereotypes they would hear for rest of the lives weren’t true and that Islam is a religion of peace and beauty.
We would beg them to be calm, and tell an adult if and when they were harassed, and to never under any circumstances whatsoever, perpetuate said stereotypes.
The pressure was stifling.
Muslim students on campus felt this immense pressure as we saw the aftermath of the election affecting the mental and physical well-being of one another. We learned there was a huge gap in understanding, that many people don’t know who we are — or care to know.
Some of the responsibility to educate may fall on our shoulders, but we are tired of constantly being on defense. We are tired of being asked to represent “our people.” We are tired of having to proceed with caution. But we’re also too stubborn to give up at this point.
We have acknowledged and accepted this role of educator with bittersweet stamina, and every day we make a subconscious promise to help campus understand us better.
At some point, the world started telling us that we were terrorists, misogynists, an oppressive cult, that our values could never align with what it means to be American.
Some of us forgot who we really were, to the extent that whenever we were asked about Islam, all we could do was focus on explaining how we’re not terrorists or how we don’t oppress our women. We internalized these biases and forgot we are people too.
So for a moment in time, we’d like to create a diversion from the stereotypes that we never asked for and regain control of our own identities.
Muslim students and allies discuss impact of election resultsIn response to Tuesday’s unprecedented election results, University of Wisconsin students crowded into a room in the Multicultural Student Center Read…
If you want to know about us, there is so much more to talk about then what the media happens to find sensational at the moment. We’re more than just a trending topic, subjects of policy decisions or the focal point of international relations.
We’re brothers and sisters, volunteers, friends, doctors, therapists and cashiers. We have passions, goals, failures and successes. We have pet peeves and guilty pleasures, like watching “The Bachelor” and drinking juice out of the carton. You know, just regular, everyday, human stuff.
The Muslim Student Association of University of Wisconsin-Madison put together the video“Reclaim Your Identity” so that, for once, the dialog can be about something other than our demonizing media image.
This is not us explaining ourselves. This is not us complaining. This won’t answer all of your questions, but maybe that’s a sign you’re not asking the right ones. This is simply your fellow Muslim Badgers reintroducing ourselves. So listen.
Donald Trump was announced president-elect, and we broke out in a fight. We fought each other over who was to blame. We fought each other over the validity of our broken emotions. We fought the privileged for not standing up for us. We fought the privileged for how they stood up for us. We fought and began to critically analyze every morsel of one another’s thoughts.
We are asking that for one moment, we listen to each other’s cries, feel each other’s pain, embrace each other’s struggle. We are advocating for people to start seeing the human in one another, and we’d like to start with you. Please get to know us. We want to know you too.
Najeeha Khan is a junior majoring in psychology. She is president of the Muslim Student Association, a student organization on campus, which focuses on laying the foundation for a unified and proactive community embodying the core tenets of Islam by promoting and fighting for social justice, living a balanced and ethical lifestyle, and helping those in need.