After four years of watching you disregard human rights violations unless they somehow served corporate America’s interest or aided the chances of your re-election, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for you as a second term president. Regardless, I was overjoyed that you won because, let’s be honest, I sure as hell didn’t want Romney as the president of this country.
But screw you for publicly backing Israel on its attacks on Gaza. After all your gallant speeches and smooth rhetoric, when push came to shove, you chose to side with the oppressor rather than the oppressed.
After your election in 2008, people made a giant fuss about living in a “post racial society” because the most powerful leader in the world was now a Black man. The post-racial-society part was utter bullshit, but the fact that you were Black meant hope for the people who believed in you. It meant that for the first time in the history of the American empire, the leader was a man who actually understood what it meant to be systematically oppressed.
But over and over and over again, you have proved that your slogan of “change” was just that, a slogan. An empty promise that went unfulfilled. As people lose their lives in Gaza, you dare to say that Israel has “every right” to “defend itself.” Even when you express concern about the military activity, you don’t do so because of a concern for the Palestinians. You do so because “if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”
My absolute favorite part, however, is when you say: “Those who champion the cause of Palestinians should recognize that if we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza than the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future.” Firstly, let’s stop pretending that America gives two shits about a “two-state solution.” You know you would rather have the entire state be Israel and be done with it. But most importantly, what about the all the futures that have been lost over the past 6 days and God knows how many years. And even more importantly, I think you need to learn a little bit more about the “cause of Palestinians” before you speak to their “champions”
What you need to learn about is the injustice and the oppression that the Palestinians have faced for decades because of the “conflict.” We call it a “conflict” but in reality, it is a bloody atrocity. Every president before you has made PC public declarations of the need for peace between both sides while vehemently backing Israel. Silly us, we thought maybe we finally had a president who had the guts to stand for human rights. But at the end of the day, those turned out to be empty speeches.
You will never read this or any of the other mass criticisms that are pouring out against your defense of Israel. It’s arguable that you even give a damn. But I remember poignantly the moment you stood in front of the camera and said “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” thereby acknowledging the horrible crime that had taken place when an innocent boy was murdered because of his race.
So let me just say this. If I had a son, or a daughter, they would look like the children dying in Gaza today. The God that the terrorized Palestinians are praying to is the same God I pray to; the same one that my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother prayed to before me. So I’m not on the “Palestinian side.” I am on the side of an innocent people that have been systematically oppressed. People who have watched their land and their homes disappear from under their feet. People who continue to be traumatized by the crimes inflicted on them in the name of a Holy Land.
I am Trayvon Martin. I am the people detained in Guantanamo Bay without due process of law. I am the people on your “kill list” I am the civilian that dies from your drone strikes. I am the person who believed that the people I am would no longer exist once you were elected. I am the person that stopped believing in you. I am the person that is appalled at you.
I applauded you for standing up for Gay rights and women’s rights this year until I realized that standing by them gave you votes. It gave you the votes of the LGBT community and the people who stand by LGBT rights. It gave you women’s votes and the votes of all those who believe in women’s rights. Standing by Palestine would never have won you any votes.
Thank you for all your hope and change. From the depths of my heart, thank you for showing me that at the end of the day, you’re a politician just like every other white male president that came before you. Thank you for teaching me not to expect anything better from you.
“It’s not personal. It’s not, “you are white, thus I hate you.” It’s more like, I hate the fact that you’re privileged and that you don’t understand the struggle of minorities. I hate the fact that you’re always “depressed” or have “anxiety” when you’re the most fuckin privileged people on the planet. I HATE the fact that I question my own worth and intelligence because you’ve made me believe that I’m stupid. I hate the fact that my best just never feels good enough because you’ve made everyone else think i’m stupid too. I hate the fact you’ll never be labeled because of anything you are and that you’re always seen as a person first, rather than “deviant” first. I hate that no matter what, you’ll always always alway, be the “good guy” no matter how many innocent civilians you kill, schools, places of worship, and federal buildings you bomb, no matter what, there will always be an excuse for the privileged that us coloreds don’t get.”
Maybe some of us aren’t supposed to be winners. Maybe, in life, you need some people to be losers so that others can be winners.
I have a billion grievances with TFA and most of them are expressed in this article very well.
Excerpt: “But the most objectionable aspect of Teach for America—other than its contempt for lifetime educators—is its willingness to create another pathway to wealth and power for those already privileged in the rapidly expanding educational-industrial complex, which already offers numerous careers for the ambitious and well-connected. An organization which began by promoting idealism and educational equity has become, to all too many of its recruits, a vehicle for profiting from the misery of America’s poor.”
“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”–J.K. Rowling
One of my favorite bloggers, Mehreen Kasana, recently wrote a blog post called The Shadi Manifesto:
Usually, my blogosphere is completely separated from my Facebook world, but suddenly, this blog post was being shared all over facebook with extremely interesting comments. Many Muslim-Pakistani women feel as though Mehreen is being extremely disrespectful to the institution of marriage and to her elders in the post. Some feel that she makes valid points but if she was to just tone down her language to one of respect, her points would reach a wider audience.
This got me thinking about the limitations our Pakistani-Muslim society has on their ability to understand where someone else is coming from and perhaps see the world from their eyes. I loved Mehreen’s post and I agreed with every single word written in her article. And I wanted to add my two cents to the shadi manifesto.
The process of going through rishtas is hard. I noticed that most people who sat on their high horse regarding the blog post were women who were already married and had arranged marriages. But ask a girl who is going through the rishta phase and she will tell you that it is terrifying, scary, unfair, infuriating, and heart breaking. I know older women expect us to be polite even when writing our own manifestos, but the thing is, 99% of the time, all I want to do is curse, scream, cry, and rage when it comes to rishtas.
It sucks when your parents say things like “kab tak hum tumhain upnay ghar bitha kar rakhein gay?” or “Mein to kehti hoon bus tumhari jaldi jaldi shadi ho aur tum apnay ghar jao” These are not general statements–these are specific quotations that my mother has said to me on multiple occasions and I am sure every girl in her 18-25 year rishta stage heard. The thing is, it freaking sucks when your own mother sits in front on you telling you that the house you live in is not your own and that you are a burden on your family. The pressure and the feeling of burden—-it’s not fair. Sometimes, I actually find myself wanting to apologize for the inconvenience!
In a society where “fair and lovely” skin and “patli kamar” are valued, it sucks to have your features ripped apart by random aunties–however well meaning they may be. Weight and skin color was not something I ever thought of, but sometimes, I’ll be sitting minding my own business, and random auntie will chime in “tumhay pata hai maray paas daanon ke liye aik nuksa hai….main batati hoon..pen lao aur likho” and it’s like “errrrrr?” I know they mean well when they bring up my acne scars, but it’s rough when you wake up in the morning and say shukar because your face looks decent, but then people you just meet think it’s okay to comment on the scars on your face.
Rishtas themselves freaking suck. It sucks when your picture is sent to a random guy and family you have never met and they reject you. It’s a ginormous blow to your ego. Call me vain or petty, but it’s not fun being rejected, even from a faceless stranger. It sucks when your parents get their heart set on a rishta you hate and you spend weeks kicking and screaming and crying and pleading with them not to say yes. It sucks when a rishta comes that you know in your heart isn’t right for you but you don’t know the consequence of saying no. The self-doubt, the fear—it stinks butt. Having to weigh strangers based on their accomplishments or looks and then rejecting them for one of the other and feeling like a horrendous person in the process—that sucks!
I understand that most Muslim-Pakistani women will go through this phase and will just have to deal. But it baffles me when older women who have been through this process refuse to lend us sympathy. I know that arranged marriages work out and you are in a great place with an amazing family, but you were once where I am now. You were experiencing the pressure, the doubt, the anger too! Just admit that the process sucks so we can vent about it together. Tell me it’s going to be okay and when I lease expect it, “the one” will propose and everything will fall magically into place and life will work out. Or give me the magical formula that you used which told you which basket to lay your eggs in.
Having people come “dekhofy” you is awkward. Having your parents set their heart on a family you now have to try and impress is shitty. Feeling hopeless because none of the rishtas are what you’re looking for stinks. The pressure that comes from parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, society, aunties blows. But we’re a community that keeps all that hidden. We don’t talk about the rishtas we get openly. The only time we do is when one gets pakkofied. We don’t give advice to girls younger than us who are now going through what we hated. We aren’t there telling them that the glorified image of coming into your drawing room with a dupatta on your head and tea in your hands is bullshit. That in real life, this crap is too messy, there are too many emotions, egos, expectations, and politics involved. We aren’t telling them what to look for. We end conversations at “parents know best” but we’re not saying “it’s okay if he doesn’t have xyz as long as he’s respectful/patient/kind/funny/smart.”
I wish there was a rishta support group out there. But there isn’t. But it just sucks that when such a brilliant Shadi manifesto is written that speaks to all the problems in our society, all we do is bash it instead of acknowledging that rishtas are tough as all hell on girls.
My parents, cousins, or aunts never ever talked to me about my marriage. Never. It wasn’t a topic we discussed. It wasn’t something we ever talked about. And then suddenly, one day, completely out of no where it seemed like, I was shoved into this alien world. I don’t know the rules, I don’t know the game, I don’t know what I’m looking for, what’s right, what’s wrong….nothing. But yet society expects me to be completely patient, and kind, and listen to my parents because they know best. And I’m expected to believe that rishta aunties are going to find me my life partner and that everyone around me is going to make the most important choice of my life for me and it’s going to turn out fine. And in the process, no one is willing to listen to my frustrations, anxieties, concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams.
I’m told “don’t have any expectations. If you don’t have any, then they can’t be broken.”
Well, that’s kind of a fucked up idea to base your life on.