(Photo courtesy of Aleeyaa Alam)
Stockdale High School

Message to my next president: De-politicize my existence

Dear future president, 

How much longer will my existence be a controversy?

I am an immigrant’s daughter. I am a girl. And my entire life, I have seen my basic, unalienable human rights become the center of debates.

Whether it is over my family members being allowed to enter this country, whether or not my people were responsible for 9/11, or whether or not I deserve reproductive rights, you as politicians have turned my existence into a pawn. You have whittled me down to a series of laws and policies. Since you clearly know nothing about me, let me tell you about my life, the one you spend hours arguing over. 

I am a Pakistani Muslim girl. I am of about 3.5 million Muslims in the United States. And while this year the debate has shifted to the much-needed topic of racial equality, make no mistake, my existence will again and be belittled and disrespected.

I have been called a terrorist, I have been told to go back to my country and I have seen the world turn their backs on the millions of refugees — not just America.

I have seen France instate Islamophobic laws, I have heard Beatles song written about me, telling my people to leave England and I have seen, first hand, the hate and animosity that has spread over the past few years. 

I grew up in a post 9/11 world. I feel the stares every year when we watch those videos. I hear the volatile words everyone spews, dragging my heritage through the mud. I have walked the streets in embarrassment for something I wasn’t alive for, something that was out of my control. 

RBG passed almost a month ago. The current administration has left the entire country on edge, especially women. With the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade, this is not the first time my reproductive rights have been on the line, and I am guessing, it will not be the last.

As a little girl, growing up, I never understood the debate over abortion. And now as a teenage girl, ready to graduate high school, getting ready to vote in my first election, I am frustrated and angry. 

Though my experience is specific to me, I know that there are millions of first and second-generation immigrants that are tired of their livelihoods being placed on the line. 

As president, you must implement and uphold laws that protect my basic, unalienable human right. But more importantly, you must humanize us. We are people. WE are who your policies affect. 

Sincerely, 

Aleeyaa Alam

Stockdale High School