Yasmina Blackburn talks about Donald Trump’s candidacy as the next US President, and how it has helped to shape her view of men as a Muslim living in America.
I was interviewed by The Chicago Tribune on March 3, 2016, as a Muslim American parent of Muslim American kids. The reporter asked me how the anti-Muslim rhetoric of the presidential elections was affecting my children. I talked about how my daughter came home from school with a look of terror on her face and asked me, “Mom? What if Trump does become President?” I laughed off her question, simply answering, “He won’t, honey.”
I gave her the same answer the second time she asked me that question. And the third time. The times after that – I realized that this was something really bothering my child who was looking for a real answer from her mother. I still have yet to give her any semblance of an answer to soothe her.
I’ve been surrounded by strong men my entire life. I was raised by a strong father who very present in my life. He displayed bravery, emotion and discipline. He mentored me. Guided me when I felt lost. I had a great Uncle that was like a Grandfather to me. He fought in war. He validated me every time he saw me through smiles, hugs and by being present. I have a husband who treats me like his queen. I grew up with two brothers who always spoke their mind, standing up for themselves and standing up for me. I had an Imam (clergy) in my life that has always lived the essence of what Islam is about in its treatment of women. Women are raised in rank in Islam despite what Islamophobes insist you believe. I’ve been treated with respect and dignity by the Muslim men in my life – my entire life.
Being so blessed with strong masculine presence in my lifetime is something I recognize and appreciate. I am strong and bold and appreciate the differences between me and a man. The glorious differences. I idealize men as a result—wanting—expecting—men to treat me in the same respectful manner I have been accustomed to—that my faith teaches.
When Donald Trump degrades women, I don’t feel victimized. When Donald Trump degrades Muslims, I don’t feel victimized. I feel pity for this man—a man blessed with enormous resources in his life. In my faith, this life is a test. God tests some with poverty, some with riches and some with something in between. Being tested with riches is a really tough test. The options of what you can do with the privilege of riches seem endless. I pity the soul of Trump, who has used his privilege to hurt others. I feel disgusted that a man with power and riches has decided to use these gifts to stroke his own ego while degrading my gender and people of my faith in the process.
I didn’t give Donald Trump permission to succeed in his personal pursuits by using me—a woman—to forward his personal quest for power and greatness. I didn’t give Donald Trump permission to use me—a Muslim Woman – in his quest to gain votes by stoking fear in people about Islam. Donald Trump has given permission to people who are mesmerized by his hateful rhetoric to harass my sister-in-law on the street because she wears a head scarf. He has given permission to people who find his hate speech alluring—to throw fire bombs into mosques and to kick Muslim people out of rallies and to spread more hate speech on line.
Watching this man use his manhood to cause harm to me and to my family and to my community—makes me appreciate the men in my life. Just like I don’t want people to judge me as a Muslim by the actions of a small fraction of bad Muslims that exist in the world – I would never judge all men by what one man, Donald Trump, is doing. When Donald Trump degrades women, I feel grateful for my father for putting me on a pedestal. I feel grateful for my Imam who has always interacted with me with the utmost respect and dignity. I feel grateful for my brothers who would go to bat for me. I’m so very grateful for my husband who is my knight in shining armor—and very present in my life. He chooses to elevate me to live to my greatest potential. He chooses to elevate our daughter and ground her by teaching her how a man should treat a woman.
Donald Trump’s degradation of Muslims and of women makes me appreciate the men in my life. It’s easy to take things for granted until you’ve hit rock bottom. Donald Trump is a “rock bottom” man. I’m so grateful the men in my life are champions.
Photo Credit: www.sammy-riggs.com