“If you don’t feel comfortable how the hell do you think I feel.”
Those are the words that are reappearing again and again on Sharon El-Amin’s Facebook page. El-Amin is currently vying for a spot on the Minneapolis School Board, and the last few posts she’s put up -- encouraging people to vote early and announcing new endorsements for her campaign -- have had those words appear in the comments section.
The line appears as part of a paragraph of seeming societal ills – “legalizing marijuana” only “after years of locking our men and women up; the rising tide of mental illness; the “joke” that was the 2016 election. But the two points that appear immediately before that question – “how the hell do you think I feel” – are “gay marriage” and allowing “transgender to use the bathroom of their choice.”
The words are El-Amin’s. They come from a Facebook post she wrote in 2016, and they’re somewhat jarring when placed side-by-side with her current campaign language -- promises to “work diligently to ensure that all needs are considered at the board.”
Here’s the entire paragraph in question:
“Way to [sic] acceptable, we take G-D out of schools, we slap felony on records pushing modern day slavery, we legalize gay marriage, give title domestic partner for benefits, now we want to allow transgender to use the bathroom of their choice. If you don’t feel comfortable how the hell do you think I feel…. We legalize sell of marijuana, after years of locking our men and women up. Mental illness is on the rise, 2016 election is a joke. Justice is not being served…. All I can say is we are living in the Day of Religion…. Read your books Qur’an, Bible, and the Torah study the history of our Prophets(peace be upon them all) stories are real…. Keep your faith and HOLD tight to the rope of your LORD the MOST HIGH!!!”
Wherever those words appear, so do comments asking her to explain herself:
“Are you against supporting transgender youth in our schools? ...Then WHY did you post this?”
“Sharon, as a gay woman I find your language offensive and hurtful.”
“Transgender folks have the right to choose the bathroom that they feel safest in. If you can’t issue a public statement that says you 100% believe that and apologize for your past words then there’s an issue.”
El-Amin didn’t respond to interview requests, but she did post a semi-apologetic message on her Facebook page on Saturday, saying she was sorry if she had offended anyone and that she has always fought to make sure everyone feels safe, included, and heard.
“I stand for everyone. I am not anti-LGBTQIA -- ABSOLUTELY NOT!” she says. “[The] Facebook posts I made in 2016 are being taken completely out of context.”
She went on to explain that the point of the posts was to point out the dangers her black, male family members face day-to-day, that “as an African American Muslim woman,” she “know[s] what it feels like to be marginalized and excluded.”
She failed to explain what legalized same-sex marriage has to do with it, or allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms they feel comfortable using.
One thing’s certain -- some people in El-Amin’s would-be constituency don't feel “comfortable.” And without El-Amin herself to set the record straight, they're left to imagine how she really feels these days.