Coming to America has always been my dream, but I never expected to come to America at a time where everything started going in the wrong direction.
Since I was young, I dreamed one day I would get to live in America because I knew my soul was here, although my body wasn’t. This was the place where I always considered home even though I had never been. America was like a paradise, and in my mind, it was my ultimate destination. I believed I belonged to this great country ever since I first heard the name of America. I knew I had to work hard in order to survive, but another thing I kept in mind was this is a country of opportunities.
I arrived in Minnesota in September 2016. But unfortunately, my arrival was just two months before Donald Trump was elected as the U.S. President. A few days before his election, Trump came to Minneapolis for a rally and specifically attacked Somali immigrants. He called us terrorists, a disaster to Minnesota and spewed much more divisive and acrimonious propaganda. Just a day or two after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order banning Muslim majority countries, including Somalia, from visiting or coming to the United States. He also started threatening deportation. He created chaos and hatred towards immigrants of color, especially those in Muslim communities.
Travelers from those countries which he banned who happened to be out of the country visiting their families back home, couldn’t return to their own new homes in the United States. Those who were approved and had their visas to come to the United States were denied entry. Families who were apart and wanted to join their loved ones in the United States lost hope. Everything was falling apart for those who were directly affected by the Muslim ban. There was rampant fear among the Muslim community about what he was going to do next. The impact of his decisions was even greater for asylum seekers and people who didn’t yet have legal status in the US. But even US citizens in the community were scared because his decisions towards immigrants were unpredictable. All eyes were on the fight between the courts and Trump. The question: will the courts reverse Trump’s decisions about the Muslim ban? It didn’t happen.
I was completely shocked because I wasn’t expecting this in my dream country. I asked myself why would the American people elect someone who hates me and people who look like me so much, or do they hate me too, but don’t say it as he does? After a few months of Trump being in office, “go back to where you are from,” started trending and was shouted by his supporters whenever they saw someone wearing a hijab or a brown person walking on the street. It was inevitable that when I went out with my hijab someone would shout this at me or call me a terrorist, even though the people were so welcoming and nice to me when I first came. The fear we felt was real.
He started dividing the country and turning people against each other, insulting everyone who wasn’t on his side. He called people ugly names. I watched him encouraging white supremacists by saying there were fine people on both sides of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, instead of condemning what had happened. And that is when I realized this guy was incapable of leading this great country. He wasn’t only attacking Muslims or people of color, but he was attacking everyone who had a different opinion than his. He was born with a golden spoon in his hand, so he lacks empathy. He kept saying he puts America first, but he had put himself first all the time. He divided when his job was to unite, he broke when his job was to build, he wounded when his job was to heal this country.
He built on our nation’s foundation of systemic racism by encouraging those who were looking for excuses to attack other races and religions. Hate crimes were committed by his supporters because they knew the president was on their side and not going to hold them accountable. Police brutality towards the black and brown communities has continued unabated, even with Derek Chauvin’s recent conviction.
Trump, with his racist use of words, made us feel like outsiders who don’t belong or don’t deserve to be here. How would you feel when the president of the country and home you love the most treated you as an outsider or invader? He wasn’t the president of all Americans; he was solely the president of those he misled. He kept attacking the Congresswomen of color, especially Ilhan Omar, even inciting his supporters to chant, “send her back” at his rallies. This is heartbreaking for us, not because we originate from the same country, but because his hatred towards Muslims and people of color is unbearable.
I believe if he could have, he would have gotten rid of the people who don’t look like him in one way or another. He put kids in cages, ripped babies from their mother’s arms, and held them in places where there is no dignity and sanity. Those kids will live with this trauma for the rest of their lives and some of them will never see their parents again. He treated asylum seekers who are fleeing from prosecution like trash. He called African countries “shitholes,” and named Covid19 the “China Virus.” Rather than respond to the crisis scientifically, he used it as a political tool in his culture wars. He downplayed and denied what scientists were telling him about Covid-19. Sadly, because of Trump’s behavior, Asian Americans are experiencing increasing instances of discrimination.
Trump was impeached two times by the House of Representatives; once for abuse of power and obstruction, and once for inciting insurrection. Unwisely, he was acquitted both times, despite the senators knowing Trump was guilty of undermining our democracy. He can run for office another time even though he is unfit and should never lead again. We must not allow this. America is better than this. Trump is a dangerous man who is capable of anything.
As Dr. Luther King Jr said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If we watch mistreatment towards one of us and we don’t say anything, that’s going to come back one day. If united, we can fight against all odds by standing for each other and against the bad apples like Donald Trump. His legacy is division and disunity; he did nothing for the American people; whatever he did, he did for himself. This country is all of ours. Even if he came before me, it doesn’t mean he owns it and I don’t. The United States is a nation of immigrants.
The extraordinary work African American people accomplished in the long and arduous fight against enslavement, oppression and inequality to improve this nation deserves appreciation, respect and honor. If they hadn’t fought for their freedom, I wouldn’t be here today. Their hard work, blood and tears paved the way for us to arrive in this country and be at home. Their legacy should be remembered by us every day, especially as we continue with this fight. Encouraged by Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, bad apples have been fueled by his hate and animosity. But Donald Trump was voted out of office, and Chauvin has been convicted of George Floyd’s murder. These are two steps forward in our fight for equity and equality in this country.
I can see the light coming. Change will happen and better days are ahead if we keep strong, vigilant and our voices raised.