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Brown Girl Lifted

because life @ the intersection is personal & political

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2017

“Holy Shit, That’s Me” – Aarushi Agni

 

You may have noticed if you are a woman, a person of color, or a woman of color, we are constantly being gaslighted by the media. For example, not all people of color only date other people of color – also, no one keeps their bra on during sex. And even though there are so many ways to be beautiful, many of us grow up with the narrative that only small white women deserve love and empowerment. In her piece entitled “Holy Shit, That’s Me” Aarushi Agni talks about trying to find herself in the American cultural world, and learning to trust her own experiences instead of the messaging.

Continue reading ““Holy Shit, That’s Me” – Aarushi Agni”

I am a half Iranian girl who just so happened to be born in the United States of America. Just a poll – are you ok with me being here because I have my Polish/German mother’s light skin and my father’s dark hair instead of his Middle Eastern year round tan and my mom’s sandy brown locks? Are you ok with me being here because even though my father was raised Muslim, I was raised Catholic – thank God I was lucky enough to be trained in the ways of an “appropriate” religion even though its teachings have also been used to kill and enslave others for hundreds of years.


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Are you okay with me being here if I don’t get the privilege of knowing hundreds of family members that live overseas because they are not allowed to come to my homeland – those that have tried have experienced humiliation, racism, been detained, strip searched and held at a border for months. At least kids in high school were upfront about their fears when they would ask me if my father wore a turban, wanted to bomb American or carried a gun.


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Did you know when I cover up my hair with a scarf in the winter the outline of my face looks like my Anty Maryam’s and my eyes are a perfect match for my Muslim Grandmother who passed away years ago. My heart hurts for my people who are being marginalized and stereotyped as “dangerous” for their religious beliefs. I am even further conflicted that because of one tiny choice made by my father years ago and sheer luck – I am allowed the privilege of acceptance and ambiguity in the United States.


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I am literally crying with relief that my American-Iranian father did not choose to visit his homeland at this time – but there are many who are living in this nightmare right now with their parent, spouse or friends trapped in a shitty airport.


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Here are some things I never thought I would have to explain, but apparently I do: Americans can also be Muslims, being Muslim does not mean you hate America, there are Americans who (shocker) do not LOOK Muslim but are, there are Americans who look “white”, who are Muslim, there are Americans who are not practicing Muslims who have family members who are that they love very much, there are people who look Middle Eastern that are NOT Muslim.


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An “us” vs. “them” mentality is what leads to genocide, holocausts and hate crime. If you want to marginalize Muslims, then please count me as one of “them.” I easily could have been.

 


Katrina Simyab is a lifestyle blogger, event designer and storyteller. She blogs at Inspo and Co. While she loves to travel (especially to anywhere with year-round warm weather), she currently calls Middleton, WI her home. She is obsessed with finding new experiences, brilliant things, and interesting brands that she can share with her readers. A pretty pusher and brave babe, Katrina loves to keep it real, using her social media to share her personal experiences. She lives to explore all the little things that make life lovely while inspiring others to live beautifully and with bold honesty.

2017 is about breaking cycles of oppression in our own communities

How to create a system of oppression: 
-Create a set of standards members of a targeted group can never meet.

-Institutionalize them.

-Discredit/discard anyone who seeks out change. Call them over-emotional, ugly or stupid. Use their “flaws” to undermine their point. This serves the dual purpose of gas lighting the individual and deflecting attention away from their potentially convincing or revolutionary testimony.

-Pit members of marginalized groups against each other, so they are competing for the same opportunities, or believe that they are. Create structural barriers to participation in groups, so they feel isolated. If you’re lucky, they will police themselves, and each other.

-Be nice, but not kind. Insist this is how things are, and oh, well. Fail to notice institutional errors or believe they are biologically predetermined or in keeping with romanticized tradition.

This happens on all sides, in every political system. It’s exclusionary and cyclical. No one is immune. We are all responsible.

Breaking the cycle of oppression, one at a time

If 2016 was about realizing how far we are from one another, then 2017 is about accountability and empathy. It’s about integrity. There is so much to be done, and it is on all of us to slay these demons even as they seem to grow ever-more heads.

Let us not be demotivated by our past “failures,” for the kind actions of our past are investments for which we haven’t yet seen dividends. The tides of change are slow but strong, as we all know; they have turned so many times, even within a short lifetime–such is the joy of exponential growth.

In many ways, I am powerless. But today I am privileged with purpose. I have made a pledge to check in with myself often, and I invite anyone else who feels comfortable to check in, too.

Ask yourself these difficult questions, “How I am I empowering the people I know? WHO am I empowering, and who am I disempowering?” and “Am I comfortable with that?”

It is so hard to fight an oppressive system from within, but so many problems could be evaded or solved by better awareness of the self and others. Sometimes we feel paralyzed to change our lives because of our idealism and search for perfection, but real happiness springs from doing good work more consistently. Be kinder to others–and in so doing, add value to your own self-concept.

Loving yourself more fully enables you to love others more easily. And in amassing powerful, radical love for each other and our selves, we become stronger in our fight to dismantle systems of oppression and make the world better for people who live here.

I paint a lovely picture here, but love can be back-breaking and soul-crushing work, too. That’s why it’s so, so important to be kind to one another. That’s what I think, anyway. Thanks for reading.

 -Aarushi

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