How can I feel so connected,
like this is my story, too
When I feel so alien?
people like me,
who’ve experienced what I have,
can’t identify me as one of the same stream of existence.
How do I have the opportunity?
Too white to be other
Just other enough to be 'exotic, but pretty'.
Not Arabic enough to relate, to communicate in my mother tongue,
the language of my ancestors
Not Bedouin enough to claim the medicine and magic of my tribe.
Not a PoC enough to claim that, either
But when you ask me
'What are you?'
Do you want to hear about the devastating disposition of my family?
Do you want to hear about the treatment of my sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers?
Do you even want to hear about the beauty of my culture?
A culture I have been afraid to claim - for its apparent irrelevance,
for the imposed shame of its twisted expression, of its heart-wrenching coping mechanisms
A culture that I feel torn about, on so many levels
A culture that is being bombed, that has been isolated and defined in an ill-fitting, unflattering and sweeping statement
A culture whose growth has been stunted,
and then is persecuted for its primitive and un-evolved way of existence.
A culture that,
backed into a bleak and unforgiving corner,
has turned in on itself
A culture that attacks its own people
My grandmother, my Jida, comes to visit me in dreams and meditations.
She pushes into my life the way she had to wrestle for the acknowledgement a human being should be entitled to
And, in her way, offensive and bold,
she supports me
She whispers to me that I am of more worth
than anyone will ever afford me
My cousin chose the easy path of marriage
My other cousin doesn’t know another way
My other cousin was forced into it against her strong will, informed by her innate awareness of her worth - no doubt reinforced by our grandmother’s piercing eyes.
I can feel the unspoken pain of my family
I live with the awareness that I have the privilege needed to reveal these injustices to the world,
but also face the paradox of not knowing what unspoken words to speak
Because I did not grow up a Bedouin
And yet, with all of this a part of my make-up,
I did not grow up white
So, when you ask me
'What are you?'
If you do not want to hear the full truth,
I do not want to tell you
I will not be your exotic desert flower
without showing you my thorns, and my roots