I have a little sister – she’s eleven.
She’s not really my sister, but, you know how these things are.
Stepsister, half-sister, it all merges into one.
We don’t share the same mother or father, but I love her as if we did.
She’s darker than me, and her hair is black as coal.
I tell her she looks beautiful, but she hates it.
Jase, why can’t I be blonde? she asks.
Why do you want to be blonde? I say.
You’re perfect, in every single way.
This appeased her, for a little
But now it doesn’t.
My stepfather named her for his mother
A beauty queen from the 1930s, majestic really
A name that is fit for a princess.
His mother was from that region of the world
You know, the one we can’t talk about anymore
But her name is just as meaningful as all the architecture
that the Middle East holds.
Jase, why can’t I be named Catherine or Isabel? she asks.
I love your name, I say.
You’re perfect in every single way.
No, but now she doesn’t believe me.
She’s the victim of mainstream media,
A phobia that has been steadily growing since the planes crashed into a tower
A couple years before she was born
I remember those announcements
I remember when they said that Bin Laden was dead
I remember how the world seemed to stop for a second when they told me
That the plane coming home to San Francisco was downed in a field in Pennsylvania
And I remember how I felt when I heard about how ISIS had beheaded Americans
And no I didn’t know anybody personally affected
But aren’t we all personally affected?
It’s one country, one world, one race – the human race
I try to tell my little sister this but she doesn’t listen
It’s not because she doesn’t understand it, it’s because Fox News has told her
That her skin color and her name are abominations – that if she were not a citizen,
She should not be let in
And no matter how much I reassure her she’s perfect
She will never believe me
Because she’s the victim of a society that judges 1.2 billion people on the actions
I, with my skin color, will never experience someone moving seats on a train because of judgments they make before they even say hello
I, with my heritage, have never been sent to Secondary
I, with my parentage, have never felt the relentless attacks of Western media on something that I had no control over
I, with my skin color, will never understand how it feels to grow up Muslim in a society that has begun to feel the grippings of fear that clawed at Germany in the 1930s
I will never be able to comprehend her struggle.
So who’s the enemy?
Is it my little sister, with her skin the color of walnut and her hair as black as night,
with her last name taken from a great conqueror of worlds
and her first taken from her grandmother, who wore the headscarf?
Is it the child who seeks refuge from ISIS in a Western country because he believes that he will be safe there
only to learn that he will not be admitted
that countries would rather send him to his death than allow him to enter?
Is it the Muslim who prays five times a day and then puts his life on the line for the United States?
Or is the enemy those who reject human kind?
Not an ideology, nor a mass collection millions
but the individuals who individually choose to be evil.
The Nazis were evil – but that’s not the half of it,
Because in the Nazis there was also those who died in secret
and suffered in silence
Nazism was evil,
and Adolf Hitler was evil,
just in the same way
that radical Islam is evil,
and Osama Bin Laden was evil,
just in the same way
that white supremacy is evil
and Jim Crowe was evil.
My sister is not evil,
and the race she projects is not evil,
and the religion that her forefathers followed is not evil,
and I am not evil for saying this,
and people are not evil for fearing that which they do not know.
They are simply misguided
on who the enemy is.