The van rolled out of the driveway, down the road.
There they go. I’m free now.
My family in Chicago for the weekend
me at home so as not to miss my Saturday shift.
I knew exactly what I was going to do
With my time alone.
Stay out of this neighborhood
They had said.
Muslims are dangerous.
It's not a religion of peace.
Never drive down here alone.
I didn't want to believe that.
I was going to prove them wrong
By experiencing it firsthand.
But when I pulled on a skirt
And scarf to be a makeshift veil the next morning
I began to worry.
What if this really isn't safe?
What if I’m not welcome at the mosque
Because I'm white and I don't dress like a Muslim?
Does just the website saying they welcome visitors
Mean that they actually do?
What if they feel about me
the same way that my parents feel about them?
I felt the panic rising up in my throat
And almost turned the car around and went home
But then I started laughing.
That was probably what a Muslim in Minneapolis felt every day
That they wouldn't fit in
Because they looked and dressed differently than everyone else.
I had never had to feel that fear before.
Perhaps it was that fear
Which had the power to make you stronger.
Maybe I could experience it
And I would know how to relate.
It would make me kinder.
So I took off my shoes
And stepped into the mosque.
I had never met such welcoming people.
They were so glad that I was there
And understood why I was there.
They helped me through the prayers.
And afterwards introduced me to the Imam.
He and I had a wonderful conversation
About peace between Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
I showed him my necklace
With a Star of David for my heritage
And a Cross for my faith.
I think I’ll add a Star and Crescent
To the necklace