Dear Muslim Americans,
I stand with you.
I hear you and I stand with you because I know.
I know what it’s like to feel rejected, to be hated. I know what it’s like to feel unsafe, like a target. To wonder if you or someone you love will be next. To wonder how much longer this will last, and to know it won’t end anytime soon.
I know how it feels to recognize that the masses have no ability to see you as a victim – to empathize with you. I know what it’s like to be dehumanized. Criminalized. Demonized. Trust me, I know.
I know what it’s like to read articles and watch newscasts about your murder and be outraged because the media characterizes your killer with kinder words than those with which they characterize you. I know what it’s like to listen and become incensed as they entertain a ludicrous narrative of events or explanation for them, as they go to every possible length to normalize, to justify the actions of your murderer. To call him everything except what he is, and you, everything except what you are. To know that were the identities of the perpetrator and victims reversed, the coverage of the crime would have been swifter, and the conversation surrounding it would be altogether different. To know that the words they use to describe you are withheld from descriptions of your White assailants.
I know what it’s like to feel constantly under attack. To be constantly misrepresented in the media. To be targeted by unjust laws and misapplications of just ones. To recognize that the rights and liberties that are supposed to apply to everyone don’t always apply to you. To watch as bigots rally around your killer, and raise funds in support of him. To know that many people in power feel the same way as they do, and will fight change.
I know. I know. I know. Because the same system that did this to you, did it to me.
My Muslim brothers and sisters, do not be discouraged. And to Black Muslim Americans in particular- at the intersection of racial and religious marginalization – know that your struggle has not been forgotten in all of this. To all Muslims, lean on one another for support. Look to each other for love. And recognize that as few and far between as they may seem, there are so many people in your corner. Black. White. Christian. And otherwise. And we are here with you hand in hand as you wage your struggle for change and justice. We got you.
I got you.
With love and in anticipation of better days ahead,
Brandon Ellington Patterson is a senior Sociology major at Howard University in Washington, DC. He was formerly Chairman of the Political Action Committee for the NAACP Howard Chapter. He is an aspiring journalist and his writing has been published by Politic365. Follow him on Twitter @myblackmindd.