Today I am a Black Muslim.
I don't mean that in the limited, historical sense of the specific African-American community that began in the 1930s in Detroit and then fractured in the '70s to create the Nation of Islam. I am neither a black woman nor a Muslim one, and I'm certainly not an anti-Semite like Louis Farrakhan.
But yesterday I was awakened by a text from a very good friend, an African-American man of impeccable integrity, who was responding to a comment I had posted on Facebook. I had posted a question asking if people had finally reached their limit and were no longer proud of their country. I don't recall the particular Trumpian insult that inspired my comment, and since they come every hour or two, it doesn't matter.
The text? "Exactly when was it that I was supposed to be proud to be an American, my friend?"
I have received such a kick in my gut a number of times since November 8. I'm not alone in those experiences in blue America. For me, my intellectual commitment to liberty and equality had never been in question, but because of the settled life of our liberal democracy I had not had much of an emotional commitment. Emotion-driven Americans were those wearing flag pins and going to war, not those pushing for better education, reproductive and LGBT rights. I was proudly in the latter group, a rationally passionate advocate.
That all has changed. Not only is my granddaughter at risk, and my children at risk, but I'm no longer an emotionally detached bystander. Today, for the first time, I have some deep, visceral sense of what it feels like to be a black person in America. Worrying about the future of my progeny is not that different from the anxiety African-American parents feel every day for their children when they leave the house. I get it now.
And I am also a Muslim. It's not a stretch for a Jewish woman to feel a deep sense of community with others who are being victimized because of their religious beliefs. Months ago Jewish leaders proclaimed that if a Muslim registry was instituted by the fascists in the White House, they would all sign up as well. We don't have the registry -- yet -- but we have the Muslim ban. And make no mistake -- this is the first act in President Bannon's strategy to unleash a war against Islam on a planetary level. Fascists always go to war; Bannon is a self-described Leninist revolutionary. War is coming, and the Republicans in Congress, who have long claimed to be patriots, are now fully exposed as the traitors they are.
I have written for months that America is dead, but if I still believed otherwise, I would not be proud of America. Not at all. Now I understand how my parents and grandparents felt, when anti-Semitism was common in this country. Now I understand what it means to be black in America. What it has always meant to be black in America.
Thank you, my friend.