Comedian | Professor | Writer
(& Smartest) Arab
In light of recent events, I have decided to start blogging again. Not only for me but for my family, friends, and people out there who are constantly seeing images, articles, and a newsfeed filled with negative stories that consistently force us into an identity crisis. Stories that consistently remind us that we live in a world that forces us to worry, to feel pain in our hearts, and to be hopeful of squeezing in genuine smiles when everything surrounding us has forced us to frown.
This post is not going to be a history lesson on the decades long Israeli-Palestinian Occupation. This post is not a history lesson to inform people of the true stories that are hidden deep within the rubble that lay over our broken countries in the Middle East or the solidarity that has existed for thousands of years between Muslims and Christians in Mosul. If you don’t understand the truths behind these stories, then this post isn’t for you.
This post is simply a post to remind every Palestinian child, mother, and father; every Arab (American), and every person that has stood/stands in solidarity with the crises going on in the Middle East that you are the hope, the genuine smile, and the light at the end of the tunnel for our community.
As I was reading Mia McKenzie’s book, BlackGirlDangerous, I came across an open love letter to folk of color. While reading it, I couldn’t help but think of how my love was growing within my four walls towards my community, while, ironically, that love from others was decreasing outside those same walls. While reading I thought of the wall that separates Gaza from “Israel” and thought about how that dividing wall doesn’t end in the Middle East but has traveled across the oceans, wrecked through the green grasses, and pummeled through the homes of my family members and friends here in the United States.
Despite that brick wall, I see every single one of you, tools in one hand, with peace and love in the other, chipping away, desperately trying to break down that wall.
Here is my open love letter to you:
I am writing to tell you all that I am in love with you. I am writing to tell you that you all are the hope, the genuine smile, and the light at the end of the tunnel- not just for those of us who live here separate from the crises in the Middle East but for those there, too. I am writing to tell you I love your vulnerability and your strength to fight against the white supremacy that consistently delegitimizes and shoves our narratives under the rug. I love you all for taking away a bit of that fear that me and others alike experience when saying, “I am Palestinian.” “I am Arab.” “I am Iraqi.”
I love you for knowing what community is. I love you for knowing how to fight for your community and I love you for speaking up for your community until nothing but your own voice doesn’t allow you to speak up anymore.
I love the smell of our za’atar mixed with the scent of falafel deep frying in my neighbors backyard. I love the way you eat mensaf with your hands and roll grape leaves with your fingers. I love every piece of embroidery and bead that makes up our traditional clothing. I love every single color that represents each of our countries. I love that those flags wave proudly in front of our homes, despite the fact that you’re in a nation with individuals that tell you your culture is a “backward, oppressive, evil cult that has brought misery to their own people.” You, my loves, are just the opposite.
In the words of Mia McKenzie, “I love you because you are fierce. Because you are strong. Because you are hella resilient. Because despite living in a country that finds some new way every single day to tell you that you are less, you somehow continue to be more and more and more.”
I love you because you are changing the face of our media. I love you because even though you are doing that, you know that there’s still a long ways to go. I love you for knowing where you come from and being able to hold onto who you are with the “other” that you’re forced to be in this country.
I love the way you directly translate our Arabic to English and never feel the need to conform to the standard language in this country. “Close the light” is very much a part of our identity in this country as it is part of our vernacular in our homes- you refuse to change that and I love you for it.
I love you for continuing to have souls when you constantly turn on the TV and see your country being torn to pieces, or little boys and girls just like you only having a chance to live to the age of seven. When you see that every single day it’s hard to have a soul, but you still do.
I love my community that exists in the Middle East because they love, they fight fiercely and they live despite them unwillingly living in fear every. single. day.
I am Palestinian, I am Arab, and I am Christian.
I am Gaza, I am the Middle East, and I am Mosul.
I am against Zionism, I am against pain being inflicted on the war-torn countries in the Middle East, and I am against ISIS.
I am with you, I am with us, and I love us.