Underneath your vitriol

You who judges me are more affected by the judgement you pass, than I am by being judged. The shadow you wish to cast over me with your invalidating remarks aren’t going to last an afternoon, but the darkness that expelled such shadows is engraved in you.

 You, you who hates me for my covered curls, my two syllable foreign name, my golden complexion – attempt to strike fear in me by letting off the roar of a lion in whose cage you are. The roar might startle me for an instant, but my steps will soon remove me beyond the reach of your hysterical screeches as the lion turns against you, devouring you. You drum up the appetites of demons you cannot feed, and cannot let loose on those you hate. You were duped by your ignorance and sold into slavery by your fears. 

You seek refuge in a maximum prison from the dangers of others not knowing that the biggest danger of all is your cellmate.

An old Somali proverb says : Fulay hooskiisa ka diday 

A coward fleeing from his shadow 

Sooterkin

PewDiePie though not my cup of tea, seems like a genuinely good person. He has a very wholesome vibe about him. But the recent debacle about his controversial antisemitic joke spread through the media like wildfire, courtesy of Wall Street Journal’s framing him as a decided anti-Semitic nazi-sympathizer.

To those who don’t know PewDiePie’s humour and context of his videos could very well come away with the conviction that he’s absolute scum. Context matters. 

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Divi/sion 

​If I hear the argument “arabs/cadaan*/Hindi/madow/Qabiil hebel**/wahabis are [negative adjective]
I’m going to whip out

“Men are savages. Every war, every colony,every injustice at a macro level has been meted out by men. Masculinity is wholly based on the subjugation of others, especially women

Yet you don’t hear me blame men because I know that human nature has a propensity for evil when they get power. It just so happens that men won the genetical lottery that enabled them to beat everyone else to the throne.

So if I can’t use that argument of condemning all men when I’m damn near accurate in doing so, what makes you think that you can paint a group with a broad brush because they have a history of violence? 
And if you do that, if you pin your grievances – valid as they are- on the background of the perpetrators so as to put a parameter around the evil that you wrecked you, and you could feel in control by knowing what to avoid — how are you ANY different than them?

Any injustice meted out against a people starts with these steps 

1. Homogenization: Painting them all with a broad brush because it’s easier to just bundle them all together.
2. Dehumanization: Portraying them as disconnected from humanity, we reify them.As if they were inanimate objects one doesn’t feel empathy for. 
3. Demonization: We project the epitome of evil on to them and they are replaced by a concept with the singular purpose of threatening our safety and existence. It then becomes easy, nay, imperative that we exterminate them. 
People do absurd things in order to not feel pain, to not feel defeat. And in doing so, they carry on the legacy of their oppressor. 

Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.

— Thomas Merton (New Seeds of Contemplation)

* White people 

** Tribe 

Retreat your shadow


​Ever since my self-assertion leg of this journey, I’ve had trouble asserting myself when that would mean sparking a conflict. Egocentric and insecure bullies thrive on shutting people down, so responding to them won’t go down well. 
I pick up on malicious and toxic intents like sensors pick up on intruders in Area 51: way before they reach the main gates. And I shut that down quicker than an off switch. 

Which can be confounding to unaware onlookers, since it appears like I’m lashing out at seemingly innocent statements. 

It always put me at odds, and I’d end up dialling down my real reaction and censor myself, even in lashing out. And I’d let people walk over me for way too long, so as to wait for when their transgression is clear enough for me to have a case. As if this is a court of law. 

I never knew where the cognitive dissonance stemmed from within me. Why did I feel wrong for protecting myself? Why did I feel like I had to act graceful or polite? Why was I worried that people would think I’m belligerent and mean? 
Today I got answered through an interaction on my blog, where someone told me this:
I was very much like you, except there was and is little anyone can say or do to make me doubt myself. Teachers who tried, I challenged and often won, and they hated me for it. When I came first in my classes, I could often expect no thanks or congrats from teachers, beyond my awards. Students tried as well and clashed with either my iron will or a fist. I wish that strength came more easily for everyone, but the older I get, the more I realise it does not…
I picked up on the sly arrogance and put the commentator in her place. After a few back and forths, I felt emotions stirred up in me, and as always I penned them thus:

{I’m not here to be nice to people. 
I’m here to be nice to myself. 

And those who aren’t ok with that

I aint gonna pander to them

My love aint a public park
It’s most exclusive and secluded 

Transgress at your own risk }
Bump. Cognitive dissonance. I felt uneasy. A debate ensued within me:

Me1: That’s not nice Mulki. How are you any different than the people who shit on you?
Me2: Excuse you. I never do any harm to others, but I have every right to defend myself. I’ve been putting up with bs far too long. I’m a person not an abstract idea.
Me1: Yeah, but what will people think? You’re emitting negative energy 
Me2: I’m not emitting negative energy, I’m repelling it. I’m not about to absorb shit to make others feel at ease. 
Me1:Hmm ok. 
Me2: Wait, rewind. ‘What will people think’ – you’re concerned about what people think?
Me1: * squirming* eh, well
Me2: Ah. I get it. You’ve been secretly judging others and now you’re afraid that others would judge you the way you judge them! Spill the beans naaya!!
Me1: 🙈🙈🙈🙈🙈
And that’s how I discovered my assholery. I had judged people who put bullies and passive aggressive folks in their places without ‘meeting them half way’ or ‘ taking the high road’ . They made me feel uncomfortable. They made me flinch. 

But why?
Because of my Stockholm syndrome. My life could be summed up thusly: Being Taken Advantage of. 
I made peace with that by intellectualizing people’s violations and transgressions by faux morality and kindness. I thought being a doormat was me being the bigger person. What utter bollocks. I was a coward and that’s that. I failed myself. I let the world flood me. And it’s from others damage that I’m still recovering from. 

Not only that, to let sleeping cognitive dissonance lay, I projected my fears of standing up against bullies and toxic people on to those who refused to sacrifice themselves at the altars of self-hate. I couldn’t look at them without being reminded of my cowardice. 

So I was punished by having to live in the reality I judged others by. And it suits me just fine. It’s sweet karma you see; whatever you project on others will haunt and hurt you. We create our own realities you see. By choosing what we let out and what we let in. 

And don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming myself for what others did to me. I’m blaming myself for having made peace with that and continued to carry on their violent legacy by internalizing all the negativity. 
I failed myself, miserably. I betrayed myself in the worst of ways. And for that, I need to repent. I need to redeem myself, to myself. 
And the mind boggling irony is that I came this great discovery by a negative comment on a post that has the following passage: 

{My hypersensitivity and my above average intelligence made a dangerous concoction. I’d see and understand things a child my age shouldn’t have to ponder. I’d be debilitated by the emotional impact of my idealism and bleeding heart. I was incredibly naive, as lying wasn’t something I could fathom. And I had high expectations of the world. When the world inevitably showed its cracks, I didn’t know how to reconcile that.
So I assumed it’s because I was cracked and flawed. It was easier to absorb all the wrong and darkness in the world than to live with the cognitive dissonance of seeing the disparity between the ideal and the reality….
[…] I attributed all bad in the world to myself and as such I believed I deserved all bad. This mindset would be the gateway of the most horrendous things that were to happen.  }

Full circle. 

I refuse to accept this

Everywhere I turn, I see hatred. Layers upon layers of hatred is eroding humanity and we think it’s ‘them’ but in reality, hatred, all hatred, emanates from the same source within  one; fear and insecurity.

People project hatred on me because I’m a Muslim. Because I’m a woman. Because I’m a mental illness sufferer. Because I’m Somali. Because I’m Majeerteen . Because I’m a black, Muslim woman in Sweden where I supposedly do not belong.

Because. Do I need a reason to hate? Do we need a reason to hate? Hate is not triggered by someone else, it’s a visceral reaction to a deeply imbedded pain within oneself and we just assign targets and excuses to masquerade this.

I have to deal with tribalism in my Somali community. Tribalism reduced my country to a wasteland. It turned playgrounds into graves and people into empty shells where only pain resides. Tribalism was the assigned target for what happened, but in truth there was something deeper that brewed for decades leading up to the civil war. There are always a catalyst. And we often do not see the catalyst because it is within each and every one of us and that is too painful to deal with. So we project. I hear  the hawiye tribe is responsible for the demise of our country! They hate daarood! 

I hear; the isaaq tribe is responsible for dividing us because they separated themselves from us and declared autonomy.

I hear; the daarood tribe is the devil in disguise. They are arrogant and conniving pieces of garbage. Kill ’em !

I spent years trying to understand this. I was born in Sweden so I had to learn the history and culture on my own. I researched for years by making up my own hypothesis and asking countless people. I had to learn to dig deeper than the knee-jerk response of ‘ it was THEM’ .

And when I tell the older generation, my parents’ generation that tribalism isn’t the answer, I’m dismissed as being naïve and gullible. Something terrible happened, people’s families were slaughtered and their homes plundered. To make sense of it all, we pinned the killers as the raison d’etre for this madness, when in reality they were there due to the circumstances. But no, I’ll never understand it, they say. That’s true, I’ll never understand hatred because it’s not logical to begin with.

I witness xenophobia amongst Somalis. I hear how Somali girls shouldn’t marry ajnabi which basically means non-Somali, because they don’t have the same culture as us, and will run away with our children if we divorce, and we’ll never see them again. They’ll beat us and disrespect our parents. They are drunkards and stink. I’ve actually seen people speaking with those words. And believing it with such fervour. And when I ask them about Somali men who do the same, they reply; it’s different. At least you know how to approach that Somali man. He can’t run away with your kids because you can track him down.

And it makes perfect sense to them.

Everyday I hear about a suicide bomber in some Muslim country killing innocent civilians, targeting people whilst they are praying in the mosque. There was a time some years ago when people in Somalia were scared of going to the mosque or sending their kids to school because that’s where these lunatics targeted people.

In Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, SYRIA, Syria. Muslims are the #1 victims of these extremists, so if it’s because of Islaam then how do you explain that? You can’t because it’s not true.

All I hear amongst my elders and peers is condemnation of these acts. Every Muslim probably knows someone who fell victim to these acts of violence. Every one is hurting. I’m yet to hear about someone speaking favourably about these acts. In fact, whoever does it is abandoned and ostracized for supporting bloodshed.

On the other side, however, Muslims are vilified and accused of the same thing that they are victims of.

Everyone is looking for someone to place blame on.

Human lives are not equal. White, secular lives are much more precious than non-whites. It’s the sordid truth. We hear about Ebola killing thousands of West Africans and we don’t bat an eyelid. But when one of our own in the West comes down with it, we panic and cry it’s the end of the world even though we have excellent healthcare and the best doctors in the world.

We hear about the oppression of Palestinians and the ruthless Zionists who will stop at nothing and no one, and we don’t talk about it because Fox News doesn’t talk about it. Instead our focus is turned to celebrity gossip and the latest iPhone.

We hear about the disparity between the filthy rich  and the 99%, and we feel helpless and turn to Instagram to follow the rich and famous, fantasizing about acquiring such wealth one day.

We hear about police brutality and racism and sexism, and we accept it as the status quo. We feel it’s the guys on the top who should clean up this mess so we write scathing comments online blaming Obama or Cameron or whoever is in power at the time, and we go off our trolling asses after a long twitter feud and feel good that we did humanity some service. Now it’s none of our problems – it is theirs.

I think the day we accepted animal cruelty because their lives don’t matter as much, and destroying the planet to create more space for our egos, is the day that our voice of reason and humanity died.

We hear about all of this and we hate it but do we speak about it? It might seem trivial to voice your displeasure with the state of the world today because you think what is it going to change? Just go about your business and sigh every time something terrible happens.

I’m not writing this to change the world, or even one person. I’m writing this because if I keep silent in the face of all this chaos, something within me will die. And once that dies, once that humane, supportive side of me dies, then life won’t be worth living. I’m writing this because keeping silent is tacit approval and silence is a gesture. I don’t want to live in this kind of world, so I’ll resist it with all my might, if only to create a different reality for myself only.


 

Qabyaalad comes before a fall

Next month, January 26th, is the 24th year of civil unrest in Somalia. What people thought was a temporary hiccup, became the future.
I’m the first generation of Somalis born abroad. When my parents came to Sweden, they thought they’d move back when I turned 5. I just turned 25.
I’ve spent years studying the Somali language and culture, effectively as an outsider. Even though I share the looks, I don’t quite embody the spirit of true ‘ Soomaalinimo’. It’s often pointed out to me that I’m black on the outside, white on the inside. Somalis don’t have a tangible identity as such; it’s more like a puzzle whose picture becomes clear when put together. Up until 1972, the Somali language had no official writing system. It was mainly spoken, and as such spoken word was the sole vessel that carried the whole history and culture. It’s something you can only witness, experience. You won’t gauge it by reading books about it, because there are very few of them.

Anyway, I digress. A recent video leaked of a Somali artist in which he derides some tribes , and this sparked immense public furore. Apparently, he was secretly recorded poking fun at certain somali tribes and said some pretty derogatory stuff. A comment war broke out in Facebook and I saw a side to Somalis that I rarely see; a passionate and tempered one. Somalis are usually languid and laid back, but talk about tribe and it’s on. It’s caused huge rifts and contributed to the civil war. There’s no Somalinism, so to speak- a collective identity that glues its people together- rather, people identify with their immediate qabiils.¹
The topic of qabiil is a heavily charged one and it’s taboo to speak of it in public. The few times I’ve brought it up in public were the most tensed and awkward. The nervousness that permeated the air and how people were squirming and fidgeting was an interesting phenomena to observe. It’s interesting because behind closed doors, tribe is a favourite topic and it’s usually discussed within biased and bigoted parameters. The hush hushed conversations betray a staunch bitterness and resentment that is swept under the rug in the public eye. It’s very much the elephant in the room.

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