By Tessa Jillson
My parents never understood other religions. To them, it was only Catholics or Protestants who had the right to express their opinions. Hindus or Muslims were a nuisance. They were intellectually stubborn when it came to their belief in different practices.
My parents grew up in a primarily white town, with only two men of color in their high school class. They never got the chance to learn about different cultures in school or experience non-western religions.
A few months ago, before Trump’s inauguration, my parents went grocery shopping at a local Stop & Shop. In the midst of gathering their regular home goods, they came across a man of Islamic faith screaming about the prophet of Muhammad and praising Allah.
In their recount of the situation, they described shoppers moving past the man in fear, gathering their kids in their arms and moving as far away from the man as possible. My dad, being a big tough guy, walked up to the man chanting about his religion and ordered him to leave the store immediately. When the man refused, my dad forced him out.
When my parents came home, they described their “terrifying” encounter to my brother and I. My brother agreed how crazy the event had been, but I disagreed, asking them if they knew who Allah was. Sure enough, they did not.
When I told them that Allah meant God, they waved it off, saying that the man had no right to scare everyone in the store. My mom recalled how she thought he had a gun, although he showed no evidence of violence.
Frustration engulfed me. I don’t necessarily blame my parents since they grew up in a culturally secluded area, which possibly might have affected their development and understanding. Yet, their minds were never open to the facts outside their judgment. I would say America was founded upon the principles of intersectionality, but they would complain about terrorism. It was always a one-way discussion.
The conversation ended with them yelling at me for my “radicalized” perception, and although I tried my best to explain the man was only celebrating his Islamic religion, it was as if their ears had been blocked by an invisible force.
I never really considered my parents a huge fan of Trump, although my mother bought his book. She liked his plans on money management and keeping Americans in power.
A couple weeks after Trump’s inauguration, I was reading a book in the living room – my mother and my brother watching the news beside me. A news broadcaster brought up the incident pertaining to Muslims travelers being detained at airports. My brother and mother started a conversation about the ban, stating how happy they were that Trump had kept his word, unlike past presidents.
I tried my best to shut out the conversation, sticking my nose further into my book, knowing it would lead to an argument if I countered their comments. Unfortunately, the conversation only got worse.
They began to talk about the wall between Mexico and the U.S.A. My brother agreed that the wall was a good idea, stating how it would create more jobs for “real” Americans. My mother, of course, agreed with his response.
I couldn’t hold back and joined the conversation, telling them that America was full of opportunity. It was always a competition, and that everyone should have a chance to find a glimpse of success here whether they were born here or not.
It wasn’t long before my mother and brother were yelling at me about how some Americans don’t have jobs because people are “forced” to hire people from diverse backgrounds. How we were “better off” with the ban and the wall to protect the American economy and keep Americans in power.
However, according to The New York Times, most jobs in America are lost due to technology, and not due to immigration.
The only negative comment my mother had to say about the ban was that it would be the cause of more terrorism and hatred toward America.
There was no use arguing with them anymore. I took my book and went to my room in silence, their conversation seeming to get louder almost purposely, echoing through the house.
The problem is I will never be right to them and they will never be right to me. Although the
conversation may be irritating, don’t keep quiet. Argue facts and after awhile, maybe they will listen and learn.