What Side of History Will You Be On?
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
I visited Turkey in 2015 and though I was there briefly, I was swallowed by their culture. The Muslim country was my first taste of a true foreign entity and I was amazed. The women glided through the busy area in burqas and hijabs alike and I was dazzled by their ability to standout. The few glances I caught were mysterious and warm as if their eyes told a story that was centuries old. I saw the Sultan Ahmed Mosque which I believe is appropriately nicknamed The Blue Mosque and I visited the Grand Bazaar which is the oldest covered market(aka mall) in the world. I dined on kebobs, sipped the popular apple tea, and was greeted with the Muslim call to prayer from my hotel in the morning. I took pictures of Sultanahmet Square and marveled at all the history before I was soon on my way. Sultanahmet Square was hit by a suicide bomber less than two months later.
The Turkey I saw was beautiful, enchanting, and inviting. I was nearly mesmerized by all the country had to offer especially to someone who looked nothing like them. I was welcomed in and once leaving for Ghana, I knew I would be welcomed back. I remember being at dinner and being faced with Syrian refugees. Kids,no more than five years of age, who wanted food and money. I don't remember what I doing at five but it didn't look like this and I know it didn't feel like that. They were alone with no parents, no other siblings, or any adult looking after them. I don't know what became of them but I can only hope they found safety elsewhere.
I've always been a giver and I've always wanted to lighten the loads of others. I would consider myself a philanthropist though I don't have millions to give or even 40 hours a week to dedicate. I've been absolutely shaken by what is going on in America and wondering how can I do my part to be on the right side of history. I marched yesterday from the White House to Capitol and I felt empowered. Am I Muslim? Nope. Am I directly impacted by the ban on refugees? Nope. Am I connected to people who will somehow feel the weight of this ban, near or far? Absolutely. I marched in solidarity not only because of my minority status but because of my empathy.
I'm a black woman who is standing on the shoulders of so many giants.
My success is partially due to my hard work but also due to the courage and tenacity by those who never knew I would exist. For centuries, minorities have fought for their piece of pie knowing they fully deserved it but not sure if it would ever come to be. I am the fruit of their labor....what fruit will you provide for generations to come?
Even when situations don't directly sway our day-to-day, we have to be willing to fight. This doesn't mean fighting when it targets your family but fighting for those neighbors you don't know. This means offering what little you can in order to say: I hear you, I understand you, and I acknowledge you. There is something extremely powerful about knowing that you belong which is why so many people chase the approval of others. Feeling as if you belong disrupts the narrative saying you're not valuable and that you are unwanted.
History is happening and it is your choice how you respond. Will you be complacent or will you be the voice of those who have been silenced? The world will drain us of every bit of humanity but I'm constantly reminder that there are still good people who don't look like me. There are still good people who look like me but have had a completely different story in some ways. We can't be persuaded to believe that we have more separating us than uniting us.
What are some words of wisdom you would share with someone who has been deemed unwanted?