I am thrilled and honored to be hosting this guest blog today from 2L Mousa Al-Mosawy on the impact of this incredibly important election.
My niece, May, is a witty six-year-old girl who just entered the first grade of elementary at the American Community School in Jordan. Even though she lives in the Middle East, May is an American citizen. Usually, I get to see May on Skype or over her summer holiday when she comes to the United States. We talk about everything from her school activities to new Disney releases to questions about my disability and wheelchair. Watching a child grow and communicate, in different ways, is a true wonder. May is curious yet cautious, she opens topics by asking pointed questions and forms an opinion based on the responses. In our last Skype session, my sister, Nour, told me about a conversation she had with May. It went something like this:
Nour: Hi, May, how was school?
May: Mommy! Mommy! Ms. Yasmine told us about elections in America today.
Nour: What is an election, May?
May: It’s when people get to pick a president. This year, the choices are Donald Trump and Hillary…ahh…hmmm.
May: Yes Clint-non!
Nour: What did you hear about it, May?
May: Well, I heard that this Trump guy is not very nice to Muslims.
May: Mommy, are you Muslim?
Nour: Yes, I am Muslim.
May: Oh….does that mean….that I am Muslim, too?
Nour: Technically, yes. Your uncles are Muslims, Daddy is Muslim. Many people in Jordan are Muslim, but there are also many Christians, like your friend Tina. We all live here in Jordan as friends. Nothing will change that, OK?
Later that night…
Nour: May, we read your bedtime story; it’s time to go to sleep.
May still would not go to sleep…
Nour: What’s wrong, May?
May blurted out: Donald Trump will be president and I will not be able to go back to America. I’m American but my family is Muslim and Trump will not let us in!
The above conversation is not abnormal or strange. It is on the mind of many American Muslim children and adults. Yet, that part of the conversation was not at all what drew me to support Secretary Clinton. It was the conversation that followed:
Nour: Don’t worry, darling, you are as much an American as Donald Trump. He cannot stop you from coming into this country. Whatever he can do, you can do. He can’t take anything away from you, OK?
May: So……I can be president, too?
Nour: If you want to…YES!
May: YES, MOMMY! I will be president….just like Hillary Clint-non.
Just like Hillary Clint-non. My six-year-old niece saw a barrier in her way, which kept her up at night, and she had the confidence to push through it. She had the conviction that she too can be president because all she had to do was look at the screen and see a woman running for president.
You know it wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s was passed that all women could vote in this country. Even since then, generations of girls watched men legislate their rights, behaviors, and choices. We are at a juncture in history. We have an opportunity to demonstrate to young girls, however anecdotally, that they control their own fate. So before you cast your ballot, think about the message you want to send. Forget about both sides and look at the future. Four years of positive reinforcement for young girls is certainly long overdue.