It was my last day in Jordan. I spent my time saying goodbye to friends and playing around. “You're going to America?” my friend questioned with sarcasm, so I ignored him.
As night came, our house was empty. All of our belongings were packed into six suitcases by the door, two backpacks on top.
On the bus to the airport, I could hear my mom sob and couldn't tell if it was from satisfaction or sorrow. I could see the tremendous smile on my father’s face though. He was so happy we were leaving Jordan to go to America.
After flying over the Atlantic Ocean for hours, we landed in a place everyone called heaven back home: The United States of America. I quickly realized why; it was a hundred times better looking than my country, with clean, even streets and amazing views. It was a beautiful day and the smell was something I’d never known. I looked at my mother and had never seen her this relieved. I could see my father happily standing with my brother, both smiling.
We moved into our house in Boston. “They're lying right? All this for us?” my mother wondered. She was as happy as a person who just won the jackpot. It felt as big as a football field to us. My mother sounded like she wanted to break into tears.
“Life just got better,” I thought to myself.
Now, it was 2012. When we got a TV, my sister and I spent hours watching cartoons. I began to see the words “Muslims” and “terrorists” together a lot. I was nervous. My dad's friend came over and told us that Americans were saying that Muslims are terrorists and are being blamed for a ‘Twin Tower attack.’ This was the first I’d heard of it and didn't know what it was, but it seemed tragic.
Fast forward two years. My mom was sitting by the TV one day.
“MOHAMMED!” she yelled. I thought something had happened to her.
“What does it say?” she asked.
“ISIS is taking hostages and bombing European countries,” I said, shaking.
“Oh God,” my mom replied, scared. We spent the whole day by the TV watching the world burn and Muslims being blamed for it. At that moment, I thought of what my grandma had said before we left Jordan: “Be careful, stay out of trouble.”
It was 2016. After four years in America, we’d seen ISIS cause more problems and got used to being blamed. We worried about hate crimes, but knew there were organizations that supported Muslims in America that we could seek help from.
During election time, Donald Trump talked about ISIS and deporting immigrants. Even though we were legal immigrants, we were scared. The fear of four years ago came back. Trump was actively encouraging hate against Muslims.
Was he mad because of ISIS? Was he anti-Muslim? Are we going to be victims of hate crimes?
When he was elected president on November 8, 2016, I was in disbelief. Was this really the country that we wanted to come to so badly? Was this really the country that my mom cried out of happiness to come to? We all felt depressed, we all felt fear in our hearts. That night, even the good food, maqluba, which my mom had made tasted horrible.
“Back to Jordan?” My dad asked sarcastically.
“The embarrassment,” my mom replied.
Even though we had food on the table, she was staring down at the floor, as if the world was too heavy for her shoulders.
At this moment, I knew I had no choice but to stay out of trouble to survive. I remember saying, “this is heaven,” when we got to America but looking back now, it's not. It's a place where small minded, uneducated and racist people live. In order to make my mom happy and proud, I should never get in trouble.
It is 2017. We are more scared now than ever.
“God will be on our side,” my mom told me. To this day, we are afraid. We have an untold future ahead of us.