Source: Huffington Post
By Sadia Reza
For nearly two decades now, being an American Muslim has come to mean seeing my faith eviscerated in headlines everywhere I go, feeling the eyes of people watching me as the subway conductor announces, “If you see something, say something,” or having people constantly imply that I am “oppressed.”
When I began teaching in the fall of 2016, it was a dream come true, because I had always wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid living in Bangladesh. But back then, I had no idea that when I taught my first class, it would be across the world in a time when America was electing a president who vilifies and seeks to persecute Muslims like me. I certainly couldn’t have imagined that I would be teaching at the heart of a community that overwhelmingly supports this man and his policies.
I started teaching as an adjunct professor in Staten Island amid the chaotic election of 2016, and was blissfully oblivious to the political inclinations of Staten Island residents. But it didn’t take me very long to find out ― as much as 75 percent voted Republican in some South Shore districts. Many of my friends (both Muslims and non-Muslims alike) were concerned for my safety and suggested that I get out of there.
I ended up staying because I did not want to give up on my students. And I realized that for many of the students in this Staten Island community, seeing me up there in front of the class in my hijab and engaging with me all semester long was by far the most interaction they had ever had with a Muslim.