Originally published in the Toledo Blade
In Pakistan, my parents suffered the effects of legalized religious persecution. As Ahmadi Muslims, they were forbidden to preach, practice, or even profess their faith without potentially facing criminal charges by the state or vigilante punishment by extremists. My uncle was poisoned nearly to death and grandfather jailed several times simply because of their Ahmadi faith.
So when my parents immigrated to America, it became a safe haven for them to live in peace where as citizens they are treated as equals This equality and freedom is central to the American Dream. Yet, as great and magnificent it is, our nation has failed to uphold this freedom when it comes to the black community. The murder of George Floyd is but one example of the ongoing cruelties being perpetrated in our great nation, the same nation that Lady Liberty shines her torch over.
This same nation that safeguarded my parents from oppression in Pakistan continues to witness oppression within its own borders.
On this Juneteenth, as an Ahmadi Muslim who understands what oppression looks and feels like, I plead to every American in our nation to live up to this dream. Be the ambassador for this dream from every word you say at home to every interaction you have in public.
Let not artificial boundaries divide us as a people.