Growing Up Muslim in the US

In this story featured by our user, Selim, he shares with us his experience of how it’s been like to grow up in the United States as a practicing Muslim.

“Everybody wants to belong.”

Everybody wants to feel like they can be themselves where they are.

America, land of the free, home of the brave, the number one country on Earth where so many immigrants flock in for chasing, what they call, the American Dream. It is true essence of this country, the United States.

My family is one of them who’s come here in the early 80s after the revolution which changed Iran forever. I’m a second-generation immigrant American who also happens to be a practicing Muslim.

Although my family may have left Iran because of the religious putsch, they didn’t let this disassociate them from their spirituality and continued to be practicing Muslims who celebrated Ramadan.

As you may be aware of, America and Iran have been known to not have good relations even long before the 9/11 attacks.

But a lot has changed in the American public perception of Muslims after that dark day in September.

I remember precisely when we became Public Enemy #1. Anti-Muslim sentiment in the US since has been some thing I’ve learnt to deal with.

That’s why watching Ramy’s take telling the story on his experience as a 10-year-old living through that, getting kicked from his friend group because he could be a terrorist, really hit home for me.

When Trump started saying “Let’s ban all Muslims from entry into our country”, people finally took notice of an issue I have been dealing with my whole life.

And it turns out, Hollywood took notice too.

“When Trump’s travel ban happened, I was almost happy that my crazy uncles from Egypt were not going to be able to come visit us”, laughingly tells the main character on the show.

Ramy is a Hulu Originals show which aired this year and already won a Golden Globe award.

When watching Ramy, I finally felt understood. Despite its small production with what seemed like an indie budget, Ramy made me feel seen.

I finally saw someone on the mainstream screen who could relate to my experience.

Written by Ramy Youssef with autobiographical elements, the show explores the adventures of a twenty-something Muslim guy who grew up in New Jersey. Ramy goes on dates with a bunch of girls, and he messes up a lot of these dates. Some girls are Muslim but for some reason he can’t really hit it off with them, then comes along a Jewish girl he seemingly forms a true bond with. Ramy has a disabled best friend who regularly reminds him to be nice. He does all of that while also frequently going to the mosque and working with his uncle, the only Muslim shop owner in the Diamond District of New York.

But it won’t last long too. To Ramy, sometimes it feels like no girl will ever understand his own unique experience. Or no job will stick.

Ramy’s adventures of balancing his spirituality, date night, friends and work is a really fun watch.

His identity is stuck between these two seemingly unmatchy worlds.

His religious identity and his national identity.

His past and his present, in a way.

I’m looking forward to the second season of Ramy. I’ll keep you updated.

Ramy, Hulu Originals is coming back with Season 2

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weBelong is a a digital safe space for marginalized teens to connect and chat with like-minded teens. Download: bit.ly/weBelong

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