As I am leaving my office tonight ready to run home to edit my first post on suggestions on how to support Muslims on college campuses during times of tragedy, I received multiple phone calls, texts and emails about the bombings in Istanbul, Turkey. I am happy to report my family and friends in Turkey are safe, but deeply saddened by another attack. I am a first generation, Turkish- American, Muslim female who was born and raised in a Turkish household in Brooklyn, NY, so those who know me, knew I would be affected by the tragedy. The attack in Orlando still weighed heavily on my mind. I suggested and later volunteered to lead the SA Collective series on responding to tragedy on college campuses. I did not think that tonight my post was instead going to be about my response to all of this.
Tonight, my heart is heavy and I am using this space to publicly confess that I am scared. My fear almost caused me to be silent because I am afraid to be targeted. I am scared to continue my work to advocate and support Muslims on college campuses because I do not know if this will cause more harm by giving visibility to the masses. I shared this fear with a friend tonight and he responded with, “It seems like when we allow the fear to silence our voice, the other sides start winning.” He was right. I did not want them to win, but I did not want to hide my vulnerability either. I felt embarrassed to share this side of me. I was supposed to be strong, fearless and impactful. But my fear is real and is shared by many Muslims in America who are on our college campuses.
I hope that my post will give confidence to those who are feeling vulnerable and scared to share their stories. I hope that this post gives you courage to speak up and contribute to a world that needs these voices to bring change. We need you more than ever.