I have been told that I am seeking to Martyr myself by speaking out the way I do. I have been called terrible, 'stupid', 'crazy', and a million other things that are not only insensitive but also support upholding systems of oppression. All because I am unwilling to shut up, and 'behave'. I am called these things because I am willing to continue to leave the country despite the strong possibility that I may never be able to return. I have been called selfish, and ungrateful, because I have mentioned that I will be leaving the US in the next couple of years. I've also been told that this isn't my fight, and that since I am leaving anyways I have no right to be here or speak out against issues that 'do not concern me'.
These are things said by individuals with the best and the worst of intentions. These things have ruined countless friendships, and countless opportunities for future friendships. So, as I prepare to fly back to the US in the next 24 hours I wonder, what do you want me to do instead? Do you want me to not spread awareness about systemic oppression and social injustices that I and others are dealing with every moment of our lives? Do you want me to sit still, imprisoned within a single border? Do you want me to sit still in my 9-5 job and never stray from my Engineering work? What is it that you actually want? To friends and family mentioning this I understand that you're doing this because you don't want me to suffer, but your questioning my speaking and living my life, as shitty as it might be sometimes, is oppressive.
Do you want me to be realistic? Because anytime I have been I am called a pessimist, a liar, and a fraud. Why? Because let's face the truth. The world is not accepting of individuals like me. The US might despise me, but it's not like other countries are begging me to go to them. The visa processes that we've constructed are not only dehumanizing but they ensure that you understand the level of oppression you will deal with the moment you show up. People like me are not welcome, almost anywhere. I have been to dozens of countries, and I know this for a fact. But I can't say these things, right?
When I ask for the bare minimum to be an oppression free existence I am called delusional, unrealistic, and wanting to live in a perfect world. So don't mind me as I pretend that none of this matters, knowing full well that none of it is my choice. Welcome to my life, and if you have a problem with the way I'm standing up against injustices please let me know if I am upholding a form of systemic oppression, but if not please keep your inconsiderateness to yourself. I am just doing the best I can, and if that's not good enough for you there are 7 billion other people you can bother instead.
Sometimes, the best we can do, other than speak out against injustice, is fake a little bit of control, and try to continue living. Because otherwise, we'd be far too overwhelmed to live a single moment further.
This all shows how many forms of oppression we deal with daily. Not only are we oppressed by different forms of systemic oppression, but we're also slowly pushed away from those that truly care. At the same time supporting a social justice activist is not easy, so here are a few tips to support us:
- Instead of telling us everything we're going to lose, ask how you can support us to make sure the damage won't be as critical.
- If you have privilege that we don't have then ask how you can change the system so that we don't even have to fear standing to injustice.
- Tell us that even though we might lose everything, we will not lose you. Supporting activists is critical to prevent burnout.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days, Inc. He is the co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.