We can all be refugees, We can all be told to go, We can be hated by someone for being someone.
This quote is one of the most powerful and impactful pieces I have obtained from any of our weekly readings. Just take a moment and read that a few times. I’ve read this quote repeatedly over the past few days just trying to understand how anyone could develop a hatred towards someone for being who they are. I’ve grown up being told to “embrace your beauty and uniqueness” and “don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t”. Well…what do these people experience? They are destroyed for their individuality, or the one piece of their identity that sets them apart from those who try to oppress them. Someone is telling them they can’t. They can’t be who they are. They can’t pray to their God, they can’t sing their songs, they can’t be the color of their skin.
“They don’t like the way I pray”
“Where they shoot me for my song”
“I come from a beautiful placeWhere they hate my shade of skin.”
What gives anyone else the right to dictate your life? That is what I found most interesting about genocide. One group believes that they have rights to destroy rights. Their lives can make lives or break lives. Where does this power-hungry motive come from? I reflect on this often, the more we read about the topic.
Something else that I took away from this week’s reading was a very eye-opening and personally reflective statement.
“I want the world to hear my story because I want to tell them that Afghanistan is a very nice country with nice people and nice culture.”
My heart breaks for Farid. I not only regret my own mixed feelings about the negative stigmas I have placed on other cultures but I also feel somewhat guilty and ashamed for believing these cultural perceptions. He feels that he has to JUSTIFY his culture. He feels the need to argue that his home is a wonderful place. Why should any one person ever feel this way? I don’t ever have to JUSTIFY my culture and home to anyone. People never argue with me that America is a filthy and horrible place. Yet, our culture has grown accustomed to pairing Afghanistan with Terrorism. This is a stereotype that has sufficiently grown throughout society, and although it is difficult to admit, I know I have fallen victim to this negative cultural stigma. Yet how do I have a right to put a negative label to someone for being who they are? This was a reflective moment for me as I find myself negatively labeling those around me in everyday life. Obviously in a much less extreme way, but we are constantly putting others down for their attempts at individuality. All they are trying to do is be exactly who they are. I firmly believe that this human tendency to silence individuality is the root of genocide. Yet the scariest part about all of it, is that with time and persuasion we can grown to hate someone for being someone too.
Finally, refugee camps appear to be a double-sided sword. They seem so beneficial, which they are certainly wonderful shelters for those who need it, but they are also harbors of people who want to return home. The readings referenced that refugee camps become “humanitarian sanctuaries” in which the refugees become targets of the dominant culture. In the reading, one article referenced the fact that the refugees sometimes receive higher grade education than the surrounding society, causing animosity and angst among the population. Issues come about because of the refugees that inhabit another culture. This entire time, I have been under the impression that although refugee camps may be poor, at least they are a safe shelter. However, there appears to be a lot more about this solution for refugees that has not be discussed before. I thought these readings were helpful in allowing me to understand in a more broad, general sense that homing refugees in a camp can be both beneficial and consequential.