I feel like I have been having a coming out party. I moved to the United States in the post 9/11 as a young black Muslim woman. My parents in their love for their child advised me to pray privately and keep my religion to myself. For much of my college years, until I move to England for graduate school, almost no one knew that I was Muslim.
I feel like in the few years I have grown to learn that is not important to be accepted by others if they don’t accept me fully. The things that make up my identity are not some dirty little secret. I have moved closer to my Nigerian accent, reclaimed my stories and spoken the truth about my food. Sometimes that means having uncomfortable conversations that highlight something that may considered a deal breaker by others. It usually comes about in the discussion of food. Since I don’t eat pork or drink alcohol for religious reasons, I often out myself at communal dinning tables.
As I watch the political climate of fear-mongering, I realize that unless I keep outing myself, I am a part of the problem. There are bits of me that wants to hide again because I don’t want the experience of dealing with people’s prejudicial self. But the thing is a larger part of me realizes that it is important to fight back. I speak my truth now because it is mine to speak and no other person’s.
For the longest time, I wasn’t sure that my truth mattered. In my insecurities about the usefulness of my own voice, I chose to be quiet. But no more. No more biting my tongue because I am afraid to hurt feelings. No more letting people put me down, personally or as part of a larger discourse. My truth matters, therefore I will be part of the discussion.
My dad asked me why I was volunteering for Bernie Sanders’ Campaign. I hadn’t really thought much about it because I just wanted to do something different at first.Then I realized that I am doing it to be part of the discussion. I firmly believe that in order for voters to make the best decision there has to be a healthy discourse. A healthy discourse only happens why there are more than one viable candidates at the table. I am making calls to ensure that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton can have a healthy discourse with occasional input from Martin O’Malley.
I guess the Democractic primaries are also low stake for me because of the craziness on the Republican side of the aisle. At the end of the primaries, either Clinton or Sanders will have the ticket. Then the real battle begins. And I intend to use my voice until the end.
Tell me in the comments in what ways you are making your experiences count.