I stood in the San Francisco airport on Sunday and listened to a man named Ahmed tell us about his nephew, Mustafa, who had been detained. Mustafa, originally from Yemen, has a green card and has lived in the United States for almost thirty years. Hours later Mustafa and Ahmed finally embraced outside of customs as throngs of people cheered.
I listened to a woman tell us that she was a Muslim and a proud American but that now she’s afraid that she can’t practice her religion out in the open. Then the surrounding crowd broke out in a spontaneous chant of “Yes, you can.”
I watched two little Muslim boys yell out, “Tell me what America looks like” and be engulfed by the response: “This is what America looks like.” You and your sister in her hijab and the Jewish man standing behind you and the little black boys holding the sign that says “Fighting for the soul of my country”—you are what America looks like.
A week earlier I stood outside San Francisco City Hall with thousands of people and listened to a woman speak about our rights. And when she mentioned that she was bisexual and transgender she was met with nothing but applause.
I watched the little black girl near me listen to that crowd of thousands, of mostly white faces, chant “Black Lives Matter.” Because her life matters.
I walked next to my brother, a 6’8 man in his bright pink shirt, and passed by another man holding a sign that said “Cut my salary and give it to her.” He wasn’t there accompanying a woman; he was just there to say that my value is equal to his.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next four years. I’m pretty afraid of what’s going to happen in the next week. But I know that if I stand up for you and you stand up for me there’s a chance that together we will make it through. And there’s a chance that maybe we can keep the heart of this country intact. Because it was that heart I saw when, after hours of being held and questioned and being made to feel like he wasn’t wanted in this country, Mustafa walked out of that airport to a thousand people chanting his name and welcoming him home.