Valerie Razo is a student of Political Science and International Relations. She is passionate about issues pertaining to social justice and politics. Valerie is interning with MALA for its “Elevate Y/our Journey” project.
It is important to be informed about Muslim culture and heritage. I am fortunate enough to have international students in my community of Palos Hills to socialize with and to learn about such various diverse groups. In addition, I have befriended quite a few Muslim students at school. I always try to connect with other people, because one is always in a constant state of learning and evolving though meeting new people. In getting to know my Muslim colleagues, I personally developed a closer relationship to them. They eventually shared some of their concerns, especially relating to being accepted and represented.
There is a continuation of bigotry which is heated, with tolerance being undermined. For example, Muslim women are unduly criticized for their attire, such as wearing the head scarf or dressing in long skirts. Some of them even get harassed publicly. Yet, I also know Muslim women that don’t dress in the “stereotypical” fashion, so it unfair to paint a picture of what a Muslim should or shouldn’t be like. We humans should look out for each other because of the common bond of humanity we share with each other.
Moreover, it is different for me as a Christian. I can walk around and have my religion remain unknown unless I say something. It does concern me that some Muslims get stereotyped here in America. How can anyone be proud of their heritage if they are constantly boxed in? I believe that MALA’s ‘Elevate Your Journey’ project will inspire people of all backgrounds to not hide in silos and hopefully instill pride in their own culture.
People should know that American Muslims are no different than any other Americans. They all have hopes, dreams, goals, and families. We all want to make something important out of our lives. As a student of political science, I am aware of the human rights abuses and issues that are prevalent in the Middle East and Muslim majority societies. Conflicts in the Muslim world should be resolved through negotiations and diplomacy, with a focus on human rights and equality. I aspire one day to be an emblem of peace in the political world.