by Fatra Hussein
(This article was originally published on the South End Stories Youth Blog.)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLACK?
It means that people hate you for your skin, your Afro hair, your style, for the way you walk, for the way you talk, for the way you live. You are hated for no reason at all. Being Black means seeing those you love gone at the hands of a police officer. Being Black means starting to fight for your justice when you’re only a kid. But being Black also comes with the amazing stuff like strength and beauty and our food. It comes with also learning that our skin color is our armor that protects us, so even if the world hates, we love back. Being Black means when the world pushes you down, you get right back up. It means fighting and never giving up. Being Black means having this amazing power that helps you push through everything the world puts you through. Being Black means seeing the worst but hoping for the best. But most of all, being Black means keeping your head up no matter what and NEVER EVER GIVING UP!!
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MUSLIM/HIJABI?
There is so much that comes with this, I don’t know where to begin. To be a Muslim comes with lots of commitment. Being Muslim means praying, fasting, obeying all the rules that come with the belief. But most all of being Muslim comes with pride of loving your deen (Muslim word for “faith”). People don’t understand that being Muslim doesn’t mean we (especially as women of faith) are being forced. The Islamic faith or being Muslim can’t be forced. Being Muslim is something you take on to yourself. Being Muslim is something you choose. The faith doesn’t work unless you want it.
Wearing the hijab is a way to show your faith, just like every religion has its own thing. To me, the hijab shows who I am. I style my hijab in a way that shows how I’m feeling. The hijab was never forced on me. The hijab has always been something I’ve loved. The hijab is more than just a cloth to cover my hair. The hijab shows my feelings, and most of all shows my faith. So to any of those girls out there that maybe hate their hijab or don’t feel like their hijab is something they like, remember your hijab is beautiful and amazing in its own way.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A GIRL?
To be a girl means being looked down at as if you’re not human like everyone around you. It means having most of your life controlled by older people. What it means to be a girl for me means that you have so much strength and things you want to show the world, but that the world is always trying to get at you from every way. It’s either through homework, school things, dreams, parents, or even siblings.
Being a girl, people take advantage and think we are weak just because we don’t talk back when we are getting treated wrong. This isn’t just girls, but women too. We (women/girls) bottle things up until we can’t anymore. We obey and obey until it all comes out one day. And when we do speak up, people suspect that we’re just emotional. People don’t understand that having emotions is not just for babies and girls, it’s for humans. If you’re human, you have emotions whether it’s with people or if you cry by yourself in a closet.
The strength women and girls have is something so rich and valuable, and this world teaches us to hate it. Which is not right. You should use your voice and don’t let people take advantage because you are amazing, you’re beautiful, you’re smart, you are enough. This world is here to test you and if you let everyone get at you, you’re letting them win! So don’t let them win. Make sure everyone loses at taking away your happiness and your life.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE OROMO?
It means to have lost the ones you love to the ruler of your country. But first, let me give a little intro to what Oromo is. Oromo is a culture or a tribe from Ethiopia (yes, there is more than just Ethiopians). Oromo people make up 34.5% of Ethiopia, which is 37 million people. THE LARGEST ETHNIC GROUP IN ETHIOPIA. Oromo people have been having their language oppressed, while living under ruler to ruler and prime minister to prime minister. We as Oromo people are strong, brilliant, and just want to be heard. We want it known that we are human. We want to be able to speak our language and be able to live in our home country peacefully.
Oromo people right now have a prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who has torn apart the country and people, has separated families by killing and abusing people. Abiy arrested activists and journalists like Jawar Mohommed and Lemma Megarsa. This year for the Oromo people has not only been about the killings of their own families but also about the death of Hachalu Hundessa. Losing Hachalu has been hard on the Oromo people. Not only because we lost an amazing soul but also because we lost someone who gave us hope when it seemed like there was no hope. Even though Hachalu has left this earth, he will always and forever be the Oromo people’s hope and light through our darkness for freedom.
So, on that note, being Oromo is having hope when it seems like there’s nothing to hope for. Being Oromo means having so much strength that you keep fighting even though you feel like there’s nothing to fight for. Even though our people are going through a war they never said yes to and are getting killed, Oromo people have protested this whole summer and done so much to stop Abiy. And we’re still fighting for Oromo people to get our justice and freedom!
These identities I put up are not only mine. These identities are part of other people, too. Maybe there’s a girl out there that’s Muslim and Black and Oromo that’s reading this, but whether you’re just Black or maybe you’re just Oromo, know that with or without all your identities you are loved, you matter, you are special, and this world needs you! Just know you don’t have to be only Black. You can love all of yourself, because the best part of you is that you’re YOU. Even if you don’t know that, I know that you’re amazing, so keep fighting for yourself! Have an amazing rest of the week!
Fatrah Hussein is a 7th grader at Washington Middle School and youth editor for the South End Stories Youth Blog. She is passionate about writing and believes that young people appreciate, want, and need spaces to tell their own stories. Fatrah is from the heart of South Seattle and wants to give back to her community through storytelling of her own.
Featured image attributed to Oromia Entertainment; used here under a CC BY 2.0 license.