By Saciido Shaie
Founder and president of Ummah Project
Once upon a time Somalia was the land of poets. It was the land that people far and wide traveled to just for vacations. We had a good government, an atmosphere that was peaceful, and people that treated one another as though they were blood. Somewhere along the lines though, something changed. Something devilish entered our country and struck one against the other.
In 1990, a civil war broke out in Somalia, after a failed attempt by the people to overthrow the former president, Said Bare. Many families ventured to other parts of Africa and beyond.
As the civil war raged on, it was during that time many families were running away from the only home they once knew. War has always taken a toll. Accounts throughout history tell of nightmares and other emotional problems associated with the horrors of war.
America was to become my new home; it was to become a new beginning, and one that would help me grow into the person that I am today. However, I will never forget where I am from, the history of my country of Somalia, or the trials that led me to come to my new country of America. I thank Allah for where I started my journey and where my journey has brought me.
The American melting pot was in the works since the immigrants began to arrive on the shores of America and today is not different. Every year new immigrants come to America, leaving their country without their choice, running from violence, war and hunger to opportunities to integrate and assimilate and become part of their new homeland with their new distinct beliefs and culture.
This is the American dream. This is what brought me to this beautiful country, a county where there are opportunities, education, safety and law and order. As a Muslim woman living in this great country, I believe in the American dream and that everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, color, and income has the right to exercise that dream.
Therefore, as a member of the American society, I am committed to the public ideals of unity and community, social and economic justice, and peace at home and abroad. I believe in the virtues of hospitality, dialogue, partnership and openness.
As an American Muslim and East African woman, a mother and a community advocate, the issues of women and women’s rights are dear to my heart. My mother raised me alone, saving me from harm. As a result, I am now living in the world’s most powerful country, the United States of America. I am educated, have a job, and a safe place to call home.
I have the power to speak against all forms of injustice. I am willing to raise my voice and be the voice for the voiceless because that is my responsibility as a woman, a mother and as a human.
What brought me to this great country was what brought those before me: the promise of opportunity and a new family, new friends, neighbors, and a new life, a better life. Guess what. I got and received that title, “an American Citizen,” and I am thankful, thankful to call you a friend, a teacher, and a community.
Finally, I am asking all my American family to stand against injustice, Islamophobia being one. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”