Make America Stronger Together Again?

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Make America Stronger Together Again?

Omama Qureshi as the Editor-in-Chief 2015-16.

Omama Qureshi as the Editor-in-Chief 2015-16.

Photo by Will Clark

Omama Qureshi as the Editor-in-Chief 2015-16.

Photo by Will Clark

Photo by Will Clark

Omama Qureshi as the Editor-in-Chief 2015-16.

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Editor’s Note: Omama Qureshi was the Editor-in-Chief of the Paw Prints newspaper for the school year 2015-16. She is currently attending University of Texas-Austin to pursue a degree in Marketing. Qureshi is a practicing Muslim. Please keep all comments civil.

 

What have we done? How have we let this happen?

I’ve avoided thinking about this election for a long time now. It has caused me anxiety every time it’s crossed my mind. But, I always thought that America would pull through in the end. I held on to hope that everyone would put aside their difference and come together to choose the candidate that would represent the United States of America in a hopeful light. Yet, I should have known better.

I have been a victim of racism. Discrimination. Prejudice. Peers and adults in my life have expressed their bigoted views to me. So why did I hold on to hope? I’m not even sure how to answer my own question. I’m at a complete loss for the state of our nation right now. The fact that Donald Trump has gained the title won the presidency has entirely baffled me.

This election was mainly pitting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump against one another. I can’t say that I fully agreed with Secretary Clinton for the sole reason that she failed to acknowledge that our country is broken and needs to be fixed. We are no better as a society than we were when we openly enslaved people based on the color of their skin. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to accept Donald Trump’s campaign slogan either. “Make America Great Again” was first used by Ronald Reagan and he wielded this sentiment to make policy changes that both sides of the aisle were satisfied with. But, Trump’s use of “Make America Great Again” seems more of a reminiscent of pre-Civil Rights America, when white privilege was at an all-time high.

The media is constantly broadcasting how this was such a historic election, a rebellion against the elites, and a complete redefining of politics as we know it. But as Van Jones so eloquently put it, “This was a white-lash. This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part, and that’s the part where the pain comes…We don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.”

Donald Trump brings out the absolute worst in people and I cannot in good conscience stand behind him. He inspires division, bigotry, racism, and misogyny. These were all things that people were inclined to hide about themselves, but now these Trump supporters are not even embarrassed by all the hate that comes out of their mouths.

How is that a man who has spoken out so negatively about immigrants can secure the presidency in a nation that is so proud to be named a melting pot? My parents immigrated from Pakistan to make sure that their children would have a better life. But, I can’t imagine that they still feel the same way now. I can’t imagine that the feel safe now.

My mother is a hijabi. She wears a headscarf and I’m so proud of her. The strength that it takes to go out into the world and openly be a target to such hate is staggering. But, I also fear for her. She has come home many of times and told me stories about the blatantly racist comments she’s had to endure. And this in our community. Right here in Whitehouse, Texas. Yes, I grew up in the Bible Belt. Yes, it was my parents’ choice to settle here in East Texas, but that does not make it acceptable to have to endure such pain. And I know personally what she’s going through. In the sixth grade at Holloway Middle School right here in WISD, I wore a headscarf to school. I was subjected to so much discrimination and injustice from my fellow peers that I cannot even to begin to explain the devastation that I felt when I realized the kind of people that I went to school with. I was bullied for my name because it so closely resembles “Obama” and “Osama bin Laden”. My name is Omama and it’s Arabic for leader. I recently graduated from Whitehouse High School and I was always asked the question of why I pushed myself to become so involved. This is why. I was driven by the need to eradicate the prejudice attached to me. My point is, if you think racism in even our community doesn’t exists, you are very wrong.

I also dealt with classmates pulling my hijab straight off of my head. I dealt with having to drag classmates to the principal’s office for calling me a terrorist. After such a traumatic year, I gave up the hijab. I’m not proud of it, but I felt like it was a necessary step for me to take in order to heal. . I thought I was making progress. I thought this nation was making progress. But, yet again, I was wrong.   

Donald Trump has portrayed immigrants as criminals, rapists, and murders. He has let a small few define the whole. He’s so focused on the negatives that he fails to acknowledge the overwhelming number of immigrants that have done nothing but better this great nation.  Building a wall will get us nowhere. I once felt proud to be American but I can assure you that all I feel right now is shame.

But I am proud to be a Muslim. I will always have hope in my faith and will always stand true to it. I am a moderate and I do not advocate the radicals and terrorists. But Donald Trump doesn’t care. He wants a ban on all immigrants, especially Muslims. Though some out there believe that it’s rather dramatic of me to sit here in fear of my future, I say to you: You have no idea what it’s like to be a Muslim. It’s impractical to believe that Donald Trump’s racism and targeting minorities will not extend to the feelings of all Americans nationwide. Have you learned nothing from World War II, when the fear of our enemy led us to infringe upon our own citizens’ rights? Internment camps were a dark blotch on our history, but it happened. The Supreme Court even defended its ruling by claiming that national security trumps civil rights. We don’t like to talk about the blatant racism but that’s exactly what it was. And, unfortunately, history repeats itself. Are we or are we not at war as we speak? I’m not saying that it will be as extreme as it was back in the 1940’s, but you can’t blame me for being afraid of the future that lies ahead of me now that it’s socially acceptable to spew hate and not suffer any consequences. I’m absolutely dreading what life will be like under this presidency.

Furthermore, as a female I do not wish to have a man in the Oval Office that joked about sexual assault. I heard Trump boast on a tape released on national television about being a celebrity and getting away with kissing and grabbing women who did not welcome the attention. He explained it away as “locker room talk” and his wife defended him by stating that it was just like teenage boys joking around. This man was 59 years old at the time and was definitely not in a locker room. It is never, never okay to joke about sexual assault. It’s not a laughing matter. It’s a crime. This is also the man that has objectified so many women and judged them all on their looks, calling them ugly and fat.

There are those out there that honestly believe that character should not play a factor in choosing a candidate. But, the president of the United States is the face of us all. The person in that Oval Office represents the entire population of America and I do not want a racist misogynist representing me. I do not want world leaders to decide the fate of international politics by assuming that all of America is on the same page as Donald Trump. I refuse to accept that the president should not be considered a role model.

However, I wouldn’t be as afraid of a Trump presidency if his platforms on the real problems in the nation actually makes sense. His policies are a sham with no real backing. He keeps saying he’ll repeal Obama’s policies, one’s that we worked so hard to pass and cut through the bigotry for, and he has not released specifics about what he’s going to do to fix them. I do not believe for one second that any one of his so-called “solutions” will better this nation.

Alas, I concede. My opinion no longer matters. He’s won the White House and all I can do now is to pray that the next four years won’t be as bad as my imagination makes them out to be.

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