A high school classmate, who is now a youth pastor, asked her Facebook community to send letters of support to the Islamic Center of Peoria in my hometown of Peoria, Ill. The entry sign to the center’s school and mosque was vandalized on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a white supremacist symbol. It was an act of cowardice, hate and division that can be sadly added to the list of hate crimes committed after the election. I am answering Karen’s invitation to express my support.
Hello. My name is Mai.
I do not share your religious faith, but I share your faith in goodness. I do not live in your community, but I stand with you in solidarity as a native daughter of Peoria. I do not know your day-to-day routines, but I know we both love our families, try our best and get up the next morning to do better than yesterday. I do not carry your burdens, but I hope you feel lighter knowing that a stranger is sending her best intentions and prayers.
I am angered that your place of worship was recently violated and children targeted. I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife and human who is disappointed by the intolerance of Americans who think our country’s greatness is diminished by its diversity. I applaud you for seeing this as an opportunity to open dialogue, but it’s understandable to feel hurt and outraged. I feel those things for you and for all of us who want to live free in our own country.
I read a Sesame Street book to my child titled We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Jane Kates that celebrates the beauty of our individuality and recognizes the commonalities that connect us. It’s a simple but powerful message that I want her to understand from the start of her life. My work for a fairer, kinder, freer America begins at home and in my own actions. I hope my letter finds you well and reminds you that you belong, you are seen and you are respected.
In solidarity and with love,
New York, NY