A Letter to My American Children, From Your Somali Mother


So much has been put at stake ― the proud history of the U.S. as a home for those in need, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It is a personal tragedy writ large, one shared across thousands of individual families, stories of separation and degradation.

The news that President Trump has started to enact the travel ban to the US has struck at the very heart of our family. I fear that I will never be able to return, to see you again in the land of your birth.

Like so many Americans before you, the roots of your family do not lie simply in U.S. soil, but stretch across oceans. My heart broke to leave Somalia, to know that my children would not know the land of their grandfathers and grandmothers. They would be Americans, but I knew that they would still be Somalis, still be Africans, still be Muslims, all the while as Americans too. At least I thought I knew that.

I am afraid, my children, that I will not be there for you. I fear that I will not be there for your birthday celebrations. That I will not be sat beside you at your cousin’s graduation. That I will not be there with you to celebrate Thanksgiving or Eid.

I worry too that I won’t be there to remind you all to go to your dental check ups. Who will be the one to force you to go? How will you still be able to play football if I am not there to make you see the physical therapist for your knee?

I so wanted to see your new apartments, wanted to make sure I approved of your roommates, to be shocked about the mess and start cleaning up the place. Perhaps you will not complain too much about not having to deal with my fussing, but I hope that you might miss the one or two meals I would cook a year.

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