See for Myself

The van rolled out of the driveway, down the road.

There they go. I’m free now.

My family in Chicago for the weekend 

me at home so as not to miss my Saturday shift.

I knew exactly what I was going to do

With my time alone.

Stay out of this neighborhood 

They had said.

Muslims are dangerous.

It's not a religion of peace.

Never drive down here alone.

I didn't want to believe that.

I was going to prove them wrong

By experiencing it firsthand.

But when I pulled on a skirt

And scarf to be a makeshift veil the next morning

I began to worry.

What if this really isn't safe?

What if I’m not welcome at the mosque 

Because I'm white and I don't dress like a Muslim?

Does just the website saying they welcome visitors

Mean that they actually do?

What if they feel about me 

the same way that my parents feel about them?

I felt the panic rising up in my throat

And almost turned the car around and went home

But then I started laughing.

That was probably what a Muslim in Minneapolis felt every day

That they wouldn't fit in

Because they looked and dressed differently than everyone else.

I had never had to feel that fear before.

Perhaps it was that fear

Which had the power to make you stronger.

Maybe I could experience it 

And I would know how to relate.

It would make me kinder.

So I took off my shoes

And stepped into the mosque. 

I had never met such welcoming people.

They were so glad that I was there

And understood why I was there.

They helped me through the prayers.

And afterwards introduced me to the Imam.

He and I had a wonderful conversation 

About peace between Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

I showed him my necklace 

With a Star of David for my heritage 

And a Cross for my faith.

I think I’ll add a Star and Crescent

To the necklace 

Too

For peace.

This poem is about: 
Me
My family
My community
Guide that inspired this poem: 

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