Monthly Archives: September 2015

My OU Cousin

Today I met my OU Cousin. Her name is Hawi, and she is AWESOME.

I was really nervous about meeting my cousin, because even though I’m someone who is genuinely interested in other cultures, I am often worried about making whoever I’m talking to feel super different, or since I don’t know what that particular person may be sensitive about, I don’t want to ask questions in a way that could be inadvertently offensive.

But Hawi was very nice. She is a sophomore living in Traditions, and she is originally from Ethiopia. We bonded over a mutual love of Ethiopian food, and a mutual grudge over the fact that neither of us can find an Ethiopian food place near campus, let a lone a decent one. We talked about television, and about all the different places you can go in America and how they’re all so different, and about how she has way more siblings than I do. We both love Washington D.C.

My favorite thing about my cousin so far is how relaxed she is. My fears about seeming too interested in what makes us different when I’m really just curious about different cultures were immediately put to rest. She asked me the same questions I wanted to ask her, and I didn’t feel weird about it. When she asked where I was from and I said Dallas she acted exactly like I did when she told me she was from Ethiopia: she immediately wanted to know more about it. My fears were put to rest for a little while after that.

But later when we were talking about food and she mentioned she doesn’t eat pork, I felt awkward again. Because Hawi is Muslim, and even though I don’t have a fear or prejudice toward Muslims at all, I didn’t know if she had experienced that since she’s been America. Especially post-9/11 America, where the wrong people blame an entire culture for what took  place in New York. I wanted to talk about it because Islamic culture is interesting to me, but I didn’t want her to think I was prying in a way that was “judgmental,” especially is she had experienced that sort of prejudice.

After floundering on my question, and doing a fair amount of embarrassing stuttering, she just stopped me and kindly asked (even though I think she might have been slightly exasperated) “What do you want to know?” I told her I didn’t know how to ask in a way that seemed correct, and she told me to just ask, because she knew by now that I was doing my absolute best not to come off wrong.

My cousin really is very nice. I can’t wait to hang out with her again.

#blacklivesmatter: Worldwide

I feel like this has become a topic that has to be talked about tactfully, because of all of the controversy surrounding the events that gave birth to this movement. Whether you agree or disagree with the members and participants of this movement regarding the outrage over the now-deceased black men a women who fuel the cause, whether you agree or disagree with the competing hashtag “all lives matter” (which is controversial because its purpose is dubious: is it designed to detract attention from what some see a clearly racial issue in America, or is it truly aiming to include all lives in its plight?), it can’t be denied that #BlackLivesMatter has taken both the national and global stage.

When two spokeswomen for the movement took the mic at a Bernie Sanders rally, it caught national attention. Newscasters were advocating both for and against the actions of the two women: sometimes saying that this was the only way that their specific message would be heard as media moguls tries to dilute their brand with #alllivesmatter, some arguing that while their message was honest, their actions may have proven counterproductive considering the politician who’s stage they chose to storm. This event took place months after the Ferguson riots, and the Eric Ganrner controversey, and years after Trayvon Martin, but once again it ignited the nation and we all saw nothing but “#BlackLivesMatter” on the news for days.

But if we go back to the original cause of the movement, we see not only the national outcry–from both supporters and opponents of the movement–we see something else very surprising: a show of support for #BlackLivesMatter from all corners of the globe, from Germany to Australia.

People so far removed from Ferguson and New York City that they would cross multiple timezones trying to attend the marches a protests in person, still showing support for victims of police brutality. This is not only proof of the efficacy of media coverage, but something that I think is much more important: worldwide solidarity in favor of a cause. Rarely do we see global agreement in favor of one cause, idea, person or otherwise. There is global agreement that Hitler was a terrible human being and that the Holocaust was an awful event that befell the Jewish people on his orders, and global agreement that Martin Luther King Jr was a deserving recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and that the majority of the events that took place during the Civil Rights Movement was a travesty, but how many times we have agreed as a planet is numerable.

This global support of human rights is proof that distance can cause all sorts of differences in culture and language, but you’re never too far to be a fellow person. Tokyo blacklivesmatterparis blacklivesmatter


(p.s. I know this was a very long and kind of “research-paper” sounding post, but I promise they wont all be like this.)