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Inclusion

Andrea Sahouri

She/Her

Social Justice Reporter – Des Moines Register

 

 

Being Palestinian means resilience. My parents, grandparents, and generations before them have resisted occupation. Our family is living proof that we do exist, we are strong, and we are proud of who we are.

It’s become almost impossible to talk about my own identity without someone trying to shame me or tell me I don’t exist. It’s exhausting.

I had a high school teacher who made me stay after class just to tell me Palestine didn’t exist — which is false. In college, I had students tell me that Palestinians didn’t exist until the 60s— again, false. Politicians have stated that the occupation of Palestine doesn’t exist— also false.

And online, there are numerous examples of how even the media erases Palestinian existence. For instance, AP style when writing about Palestine is to refer to my family’s homeland as the “Palestinian territories.” And journalists have been fired or have been the targets of smear campaigns for appearing to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

I’ve seen the wall in Palestine. I’ve been through the checkpoints.

I’ve had guns pointed at me by Israeli soldiers. It’s dehumanizing.

I’ve also listened to my grandparents’ stories of a Palestine before military occupation. I’ve smelled the honeysuckle and have picked the apricots and lemons from my grandparents’ land. I’ve listened to the stories of my mother, who at a young age had to fight for freedom from occupation.

These stories and experiences, they’ve taught me resilience and pride.

My mother always taught me to be proud of who I was.

I remember our car drives on the way to school, she’d tell me to never let anyone else define who I am.

And every time I look at her, I remember how strong our people are. That’s the silver lining for me.

A mantra that I live by is…

Be true to who you are, and remember we are all human. For so long I’ve had people try to dehumanize me and my people, so I know the kind of pain dehumanization brings.

This motivates me to bring humanity in every story that I write, and by doing so, I’m making a greater impact in my community.

National Arab American Heritage Month

April is National Arab American Heritage Month, celebrating the heritage, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. We are honoring this celebration by amplifying the voices of Arab Americans at 鶹ýAV.

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