5 Tips for Living in Muslim-American Skin

1.

Wear you skin like armor.

The glow of your forefathers shines brighter than any bleach-drenched word that tries to erase the “La Illaha Illallah” from your DNA.

Do not dare to cut the thread that stitches your identity to your soul,

Your skin is your home.

Your skin is history:

it is the story of generations of conquerors and caliphs,

of inventors and mathematicians,

of mothers who breath sacrifice,

of fathers who grew from seeds to thundering oak trees, their roots buried in the soil we stand on.

      Such a history will protect you from any bullet because your skin never forgets,

gripping your memory between its teeth for the next generation, tattooing your name on the backs of those to come.

Armor is crafted for soldiers:

Every day you are at war, your existence is a battle, your thoughts a revolution in the making,

so wear your skin like armor.

 

2.

Always Remember.

Let the memory of each death ring in your ears.

Say each name out loud.  

Do not forget that every body that fell into the cold unforgiving hands of fear was cut from   the same cloth you wear around your bones,  

that each silenced voice echos in the vibrato of your own,

that each heart that stopped beating in this life still competes for the rhythm drumming beneath your fingertips.

 When they try to cut you open

(and they will try) you will bleed red, white, and blue

---Remember,

 and then paint it on to the canvas of your skin,

fill in the lines that have been crafted by a constitution founded on liberty and the pursuit of happiness,

shade in the sketch of humanity that God’s word has left printed on you and remember---and in order to survive you must remember.

Remember hard enough that when the ocean meets your skin it will taste like struggle instead of salt.

Remember that headlines are a revolving door of truth,

That you refuse to pledge allegiance to a United States of the Media,

That they tortured, raped, and killed us in the name of freedom

Remember, we are still standing.

 

3.

Grieve.

In each battle, in each period of reflection, do not forget to grieve.

Do not jump into action, a whirlwind of words and protests and social media rants without understanding your hurt.

Crack yourself open and let all of your hurt come pouring out,

I promise that the Earth will bury it into her soil,

The wind will mourn with you in each howl,

The clouds will cry until your grief is a layer of thicker skin,

--------a humming hymn of “yes, I understand, this is how we survive.”

 

4.

Love.

Let your skin be a host to forgiveness, to kindness, to hope.

They will try to carve your goodness out until you are nothing but an empty shell

---------do not let them.

Your skin is a mirror, reflecting every person you have ever known.

Your skin is a tapestry, weaving bismillah and the Star-Spangled Banner

and I know that the weight of that hyphen between “Muslim” and “American” weighs heavy around your shoulders,

so why carry the weight of a burden as heavy as hate?

After all,

            It is easier to pull a flower from the ground than the weed that hates it.

Make sure you soak your skin in love.

 

 5.

Listen.

The world is always sitting on the eve of change,

and it is there that we foolishly wait for a time still,

an infinite pause to capture one golden piece of opportunity to wrap ourselves in an everlasting comfort.

Listen carefully:

this moment will never come.

So instead direct your ears to the spin of society as it dictates and rearranges what is good and what is evil

When you listen close enough you will be able to hold a shell up to your ears and hear the triumphs and tribulations our people between each crashing wave.

 Listen and feed your skin with knowledge.

Listen so that you are not sitting on your hands waiting for a perfect moment but are the one to build it.

and you will never be done with listening,

but when you have heard enough, you will speak.

You will shout that this is who you are,

That this is your skin,

And that you are surviving.

This poem is about: 
Me
My community

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