I’m a 24-Year-Old Woman and Today I Voted in My First General Election

Politics has never been my thing. In the past I would tell myself that my vote didn’t count for anything, that one vote wouldn’t really make a difference. I didn’t think that choosing not to vote made me any less American, any less patriotic. I told myself that I could love this country without casting my choice for president.

When President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, I found myself wishing that I could’ve voted then. It was a historic election, one that excited the nation, and I wanted to be part of it. But I wasn’t eligible to vote then, and I felt as though I had missed out on a great opportunity.

This year, we have another historic election, for entirely different reasons. This year, I didn’t need to think twice about whether or not I would be voting. I knew, as most of us did, that this was a pivotal moment in American history. I knew that this year, it was no longer just about politics. There was much more at stake than a Democratic or Republican victory, and I knew that I had a responsibility—not as an American citizen, but as a human being—to go to the ballot and exercise my democratic right to vote.

Even for those of us who don’t like to get involved in the messy political discussions that dominate dinner conversations at this time of the year—even we recognize that we are playing an active role in the writing of American history. One day ten, twenty years from now, our children will read about this election in their history books, and they’ll ask us what we did. Who we voted for. If we made a difference. Even though we know it’s not as easy as separating one candidate from the other, that politics is a whole lot of gray and not so much black and white—we still need to make a choice. Whatever that choice may be, it’s crucial that we each get ourselves to the ballot.

In this election, we’re voting for more than president of the United States of America. We are voting for freedom, for the very foundations of liberty that this great nation is built upon. We should not have to be in this position, but we are. Our freedoms are being threatened by someone who could be our next commander-in-chief, our lives threatened by someone who calls himself a leader. We are a democratic republic and yet this is our reality in 2016.

We have a candidate who is running for the highest office in the land, someone who could very well lead the free world, and he wants to take away our right to exercise basic rights. Our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, our freedom to enter this country as immigrants—all these things could be taken away from us. Is it not our duty, then, our burden, to make sure that we do something to prevent that from happening? Our lives will be affected. Our families. Our children. Who else will defend them if we don’t? Who else will fight a fight that is ours to see through?

Go out and vote. Vote Democrat. Vote Green Party. Write in your own suggestion and vote for your mother. But vote.

It’s no longer just a right. It’s an obligation.


Justify Your Justice

Once united, a nation stands

Divided against itself

And where can it turn now

For a justice that never was?

I think of the streets

Of a home I have only seen

Less than a handful of times

I picture the flames that rise

The orange crack of burning

Revenge, licking at sun-blackened skin

This is my country?

My memories send me false

Pictures of quaint stores

And yellowed sandstorms

That drive everyone in, family

Huddled in a dark room, the

Ticking of idle generators

Our only soundtrack

Now the orchestra is led

By tyrants, conductors who

Wave their empty words around

Enough so that they keep the people

At bay, so that no one dares to

Speak against this justice

That has burned our blood


“Re-conceiving Misconceptions”

I turn on the news
And bear the burden
Of listening to untruths
As they are defined
By lost souls
Who have bred terror
And choose to disguise it
Behind a curtain
Of false explanations
They are not Islam

Machine guns and suicide bombs
Lives taking lives taking lives
Smoke screens and the residue
Of violence
Blood lost and tears shed
Families torn apart as easily
As wounded flesh
Sunless skies and the picture
Of shallow horizons
This is not Islam

Politics and its petty negotiations
Experts on news reports
Showing off what they claim to know
Floating numbers while numbers of people
These are not Islam

Tear-stained tracks of children
In third-world countries
So young the faces blur together
And it’s the same child
Crying out for the same mother
Answered with the same
IEDs and RPGs
Cold abbreviations for destruction
That is not Islam

* * *

Prayer rug laid out five times a day
Kneeling in subjugation
Seeking God for his forgiveness
In this world where ignorance reigns
And lies are spread to defend
Actions taken against humanity
Only the strong never forget their Savior
Only the faithful survive
Ask me what is Islam

Knowing you owe your life
To a much higher being
Cherishing loved ones
For tomorrow they may be gone
Honoring time, knowing that it moves
With the will of One, and only One
Seeking redemption
For your mistakes
And guiding others to do the same
Ask me what is Islam

Knowing you are not alone
Even in solitude
That God is ever watchful
And will guide you when you falter
As you stand on beaten paths
Putting your trust in a power
That can never be seen
But is always felt
In the purest of intentions,
There will be Islam


Faith: This is Islam