Both the blessing and the curse of the United States is that it truly is the world’s melting pot, a coalition of peoples from anywhere and everywhere, each with their own beliefs and culture. While the diversity of this nation is beautiful, it also initiates a need among the inhabitants of the nation to systematically categorize people, in order to make their view of the world more black and white.
This is what stereotyping does; it takes the beautiful hues of different races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures, and converts them to black and white, in which a person is defined entirely by the side that they have been placed on.
Being Muslim, I have to deal with knee-jerk sentiments many Americans have about my faith. Anti-muslim bigotry, discriminatory behavior, and all forms have oppression have driven me to want to initiate a positive change in the world and to fight the ignorance to which I had fallen victim. And I am not alone -- a recent Gallup poll found 43% of Americans nationwide admitted to feeling at least "a little" prejudice against Muslims.
Through this journey, I’ve learned more than I could have ever anticipated. I struggled a lot at first with trying to get people excited about redefy, social justice, and diversity work. It was really hard for me to articulate to my peers that we, as kids, could really make a difference in regards to global issues. A lot of high schoolers just want to be concerned with school, relationships, and parties. A lot of people do not want to have conversations that are uncomfortable. Overwhelmingly, a lot of people do not want to be belittled, yelled at, or attacked. Through my journey with redefy, I have gotten to a place where I understand that change can be made through calm, intelligent, and thoughtful dialogue. People do care. We all want a world that is safe for and accepting of our children, and if we just rally behind that concept this world will be an infinitely better place. I still struggle trying to get teenagers excited about redefy sometimes, but through finding my voice, amplifying it, and engaging in meaningful conversation, I think that I will continue to grow redefy in a way that really benefits this world.
There is one message I really want to get across to all my peers with ambitions: our age does not limit our activism.