Someone told me the other day that since I’m Syrian, I should only focus on Syria and stop focusing on the Palestinian conflict so much. That person also told me that I should not care for the Black Lives Matter campaign, because I’m not black.
Does that mean that the only people I should help are Syrians? The only protests I should go to are for Syria? And the only cause I should donate to is for Syria?
This mentality that people should only support their own causes that are linked with their race, religion or ethnicity is what is destroying our society’s unity. By only focusing on our own people, we are telling ourselves a lie; we are convincing ourselves this lie that our people are the only people that matter. “Our people” should be every person in this world—regardless of geography, regardless of skin pigmentation and regardless of our religious beliefs. By only caring for one cause, we are allowing color, race and culture dictate our lives. We are not opening our hearts wide enough and we are letting these factors cause a division without us even realizing it.
Just because I’m not Palestinian, does not mean that I don’t consider Palestinians my own brothers and sisters—my blood. Just because I am not African American, does not mean I don’t feel for Ayanna Jones, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner as though I’ve known them my entire life. Just because I am not Kenyan, does not mean that I cannot mourn the loss of the 147 students massacred in Garissa University. And just because I’m Syrian, does not mean that I don’t fight for justice of people around the world who are oppressed, just as I do for Syrians.
As a Syrian-American Woman, I know what it’s like to place my forehead on the ground and cry for mercy from God, that my family in Syria is alive and well— because sometimes, that’s all I feel like I can do. I know what it’s like to remember the view of the city lights from balconies and jasmine flowers hanging from trees and know that I may never see those days again. That the last time I said goodbye to my family may in fact, be my last goodbye.
However, Syria isn’t the only world problem on my mind. All over the world, people battle injustice and each form of oppression is just as important as the next. No human life is more superior than another.
As a Muslim American woman, I experience racism and I experience religious intolerance. I receive hateful comments for practicing Islam—a peaceful and beautiful religion that is often misinterpreted as a violent one. I receive stares for being with my mother and sisters in public, because they wear hijab. I am often shot down and judged for expressing my beliefs. I understand that saying I’m a Muslim journalist will not always get me the job I want; my beliefs are not understood and that ignorance sometimes wins. I am proud of what makes me who I am—But, I do understand what struggle is. I know this is something that not only I face.
When we stand alone, we are nothing, just specs of dust, but when we stand in solidarity— no matter our religion, race or ethnicity, and then we can truly overcome injustice and racism throughout our world. Unity and love for one another is the first step, the first step to overcoming superiority and hate.