<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-KFP6QF" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> America Is An Idea, Not A Geography
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Seeking asylum in America is dangerous and marked by an almost interminable waiting—for a wholly uncertain fate.

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Shervin was born in Iran and grew up in San Jose. He’s an ‘80s enthusiast, and collects cars and all kinds of memorabilia from the era.

Zahraa is a single mother, a Muslim, and an American. She lives in Los Angeles with her three sons.

Film Directed by Mohammad Gorjestani, Photography by Ike Edeani

“I’m raising my children to know their American side and their Muslim side. They learn their religion, they play soccer, they love boxing. There’s no difference between them and other kids.”

Like any single mother in America, Zahraa’s day-to-day schedule is something of a manic ballet. She is raising three healthy young boys, including one set of twins, all under age ten. She is also a Muslim, and she has found that many people assume her religious identity makes her experience somehow different from that of a non-Muslim single mom.

It isn’t. “I wake up early every morning, and at the same time I’m leaving, my neighbor's leaving—and we’re both taking our kids to school, taking them to appointments, running the exact same errands at the exact same time,” she says. (She makes it a point to have girls’ nights with her friends, too—when she can make the time.)

Zahraa was born in California to Lebanese parents. She’s an American, wears a headscarf, and speaks without an accent. She works at a car dealership when she’s not driving for Lyft. As the first point of contact for many customers over the phone, she explains,“they don’t know what I look like. And so they come into the dealership and they see a Muslim woman wearing a scarf. It either surprises them in a good way or it surprises them in a bad way.”


Zahraa takes a call at the car dealership where she works. "On the phone, I sound American, you know?"


As a business administrator at the dealership, her days are busy.

Zahraa on the phone while at work at a car dealership 01.
Zahraa in the car lot of the dealership where she works 02.
I had a customer come into the dealership, and the first thing that came out of the mom's mouth was, ‘Wow, you're beautiful.’ And that made me feel great. And then her son goes, ‘You have a really beautiful scarf on, as well.’ And it made me feel amazing.

But her appearance doesn’t always engender such warm feelings. Even in Los Angeles, a city known for its progressive politics, Zahraa has been the victim of hate crimes. “We’ve been called terrorists, hoodrats, we’ve been spit at . . . When my kids get to high school, I’m scared that they’re going to get beaten up in the locker room, just for being Muslim-American.”

None of that can slow Zahraa—or her boys. “We’re not here to be harrassed because you want to change the country for the worse, not for the better,” she states unequivocally. She keeps her ambitious young sons focused on the bigger picture, which comes naturally to them.


Like most kids, Zahraa's sons are very active. They love to practice boxing with their mother.


Zahraa loves living in Los Angeles. "LA is the place to live, honestly. It has the beaches, it has the weather, it has everything."

Zahraa and her sons at a boxing gym 01.
Zahraa laughs with a friend, as her sons play nearby 02.
My boys have big dreams. One of them wants to be an FBI agent, one of them wants to be a firefighter, and then another one wants to be a dentist. Oh, and the FBI agent also wants to own his own business.

And Zahraa encourages their dreams, because, to her, there’s no better place to achieve them, no matter who you are. “We’re all here to become doctors, lawyers, to get an education, to have our own businesses, to raise our children. We’re all here to succeed. This is what America is.”

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Every issue contributing to our current immigration crisis is interconnected. Your stories inspire us to continue to take a stand — when our community of riders and drivers is threatened, we’re encouraged to take action.

In honor of Zahraa and her family, we are humbled to support Muslim Advocates — a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power, and in communities to ensure that American Muslims may live free from hate and discrimination.

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