Dear Muslim Mother at Tigard High School on Fourth of July,
You were in prayer at sundown as we all waited for the fireworks on the football field. You were dressed in your faith. I noticed you. I pointed you out to my children, who are 7, 5 and 3.
At home, in the car, we talk about being allies, about freedom and the responsibility of putting kindness into the world even when it’s not easy; they hear people hate and fear you on the news and they don’t understand why.
They know something unsettling is being allowed to go on.
It is one thing to say to our little children, these are our neighbors, defend them, respect them and support them in our community because they are us and we are them, but those are concepts.
They were curious about you when I pointed you out, we quietly watched you in prayer, respectfully, the way we did when we popped in unexpectedly on our mechanic Chandra in prayer at his alter. My children asked about Mecca and which direction you were praying in and then gave a little nod, you were now just as normal as any other part of their daily world. I knew they would explain to their friends if they encountered someone else in prayer that it was normal, to be reverent in their space. My children moved on to other things, they threw the Frisbee and boogied to the YMCA, and you went back to your family too.
Thank you for being present and visible and brave. It cannot be easy. I imagine you do not feel safe all the time.
When my family talks about what’s happening in our country, I can say, “Do you remember that mother we saw on Fourth of July? People are giving people like her a hard time and that’s not okay.” You are real and tangible for them now. You are some little kid’s mom who prays on the football field at sundown, like their nanna is some little kid’s grandmother who prays in a wooden pew, like our friends who honor us by inviting us to Chanukah every year are their friend’s parents.
Thank you for being here. I did not want to celebrate this year but you reminded me that you are America too, and so I celebrate you, and the treasonous men who built your constitution and the woman printer who printed their words and tied her name to it, so she would be hung alongside them for these few inalienable rights.
My thoughts are with you.