Written by Randa Tawil
The forgotten Americans. The silent majority. In the last few days I have read over and over about those people we forgot. The white working class who are just trying to survive. The New York Times runs pieces every day now getting to know these Americans that ‘we’ all forgot. Yes, I see you. And I see you are hurting. But the thing is, you forgot about me, too.
You forgot that I am here because of a war you and your parents supported. You forgot I am here because my family’s land was taken, and you supported that too. You forgot that I am Arab, and I also love to tap dance and sing and listen to Frank Zappa on full volume in my car. You forgot that even though I am Christian, my friends and aunts and uncles are Muslim and we break bread together and celebrate Ramadan and Christmas together, because that’s how we see the world.
And you forgot about my friends, too. You forgot that my undocumented friends are here because the same factories that you are losing are causing extreme poverty in Mexico. You forgot that your people didn’t have documents either. You forgot that you share in the fight against transnational corporations. You forgot that undocumented people are funny, kind, and part of your communities.
You forgot to demand that black lives matter. They forgot Eric. They forgot Tamir. They forgot Sandra. They forgot Michael. They forgot Rekia.
You forgot about me.
But I’m pretty used to it, and not just from you. In my experience, it’s not the “silent majority” that I’ve been afraid of. It’s the college professors who have explained to me why Islam is based on hate. It’s the educated friends who have rationally defended the murder of Palestinian children. It’s Obama, who has deported more people than any other president in US history. Its Hillary Clinton who fights for women’s equal pay but fought to keep minimum wage low in Haiti.
Is there a difference between a policy report that defends drone strikes and graffiti that reads ‘Syrians Out?’ Is there a difference between militia men who take over a wildlife reserve and the government who acquits them? Sometimes I feel as if I am looking at a man gaze at his reflection in a fun house mirror and watching the mirror gaze back. Neither mirror nor man see me; they both are too busy pondering why the other looks so strange.
But from this forgotten corner of my country, my imagination and my will have grown strong. I have imagined other ways of being in this country, other ways of imagining my place in the world. I link arms with the other forgotten. The trans, the undocumented, the Muslim, the disabled, the refugees, the black and brown communities, and I see a new world on the horizon. And if you both join us, you will see it too.