When President Obama won the election in 2008 my family and I was among the millions that shuffled through the crowded subways of Washington DC to catch a glimpse of the first African-American President. We stood among the brave souls who gathered along the road side on that frigid January day to catch a glimpse of “hope”. My 8yr old son mounted his father’s shoulders with a camera in anticipation of the President’s arrival (for which he actually got the only picture in the family and it was later displayed at an exhibit at Yale University) Yet neither was my proudest moments. My proudest moment was in looking at my then 10 yr. old daughter’s face when during the inaugural speech the President mentioned the word “Muslims” and she looked up at me and said “Mommy he remembered us”. I can still clearly see the look of pride and hope in her eyes as she looked at me. For a child whose memory do not have many days
that precedes 9/11 and the Islamaphobia that followed, that was a momentous moment.
President Obama’s #mosquevisit this week was another affirmation to the next generation of Muslim American children that he had not forgotten us since that day. Confirming that despite the media and political rhetoric that has tried to hijack the narrative of Muslim Americans we have not been marginalized. Placing Muslims in the historical context of America reaffirmed and in fact enlightened many people as to the contribution of Muslim Americans to United States. Pointing out the contributions of Muslims to America today redirects the narrative of who we are and how we an intricate part of American society.
For me that speech was very personal. For 48 Minutes my thoughts were about how it would effect my children’s classmates, the people I work and go to school with, even the cashier at the local pharmacy who may be watching and learning something she had not known about Muslims and as a result have less prejudice and no fear just because I walk into the store in a headscarf. It was not a speech to 1.6 Billion people who claim Islam throughout the world, but one specifically to my family and my friends. It was not an international policy for America’s stance for or against Muslim majority countries but rather a stance for the social policy for Americans, all Americans. For almost an hour another 10-year-old Muslim American girl somewhere said to her mom “The President remembered us”.
My daughter is now 17 yrs. old and she pounds the pavement with local advocacy groups to protest the unemployment in our city, promote pay equity, and register people to vote. I hope that she may one day find herself visiting a mosque during her Presidency, but
more importantly I believe that she now knows that she too can actually be president of her country, the United States of America.
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By Mubarakah Ibrahim is an African-American Muslim-American, Business women, Health Advocate and founder of Fit Muslimah online health and fitness revolution Muslim women. She was a guest of President Obama’s 2013 Ramadan Iftar Dinner for her contribution towards women’s health and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show “30 Something in America”. A show that profiled here life as Muslim Personal trainer, business owner, mom and wife. She lives in New Haven CT with her husband and 4 children.