I’m not eff-ing off anywhere

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

The recent Supreme Court ruling on immigration detention left me reeling. Allowing a government, a currently non-inclusive institution, to detain people indefinitely seems like a gross violation of human rights. It’s a complete contradiction to America’s favorite value — freedom. It’s important to point out that this ruling only pertains to those convicted of a crime, but it also covers those whom have completed their sentence. At what point is a person forgiven? And how long before more laws are passed that oppose the overall support of immigrants and immigration? How many more cases currently blocked by more humane courts, and the heroes of the ACLU, will make their way up to and win in the conservative majority Supreme Court? Tactless and crude, Trump has himself alluded many times how he will eventually “win in the Supreme Court”.

Needless to say I spiraled after this ruling. It brought on familiar feelings of being unwanted and unrecognized. Of how no matter how much work you put in as a contributing citizen, you’ll always be an “other”. Against anyone’s better judgement I dove in to the deep-end of racist Twitter trolls, and read tweet after awful tweet adding to my internal trauma. My inner monologue and I analyzed article upon article about the global rise of White Nationalism. Moodily I thought about all the times people have asked me “where I’m really from” and spitefully I prepped snarky answers for the next time like “I’m from here, are your grandparents from {insert any white county}?”. Of course it didn’t help matters when this question was asked of me in a shared Lyft ride and I couldn’t for the life of me remember my prepared snarky-ness.

Internal conflict aside, I know similar matters are on a lot of people’s minds. Probably not the part about prepping snarky responses for shared rides, but the feeling that we’re going backwards. That we’re still fighting for basic freedoms like personal liberty. It’s exhausting to think about the attack on the rights to your body, even after your foremothers have paid all the dues. I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve only half-jokinging made a list of countries I could escape to. I also know that I’m not the only one who was torn apart when a top country on this very list was attacked by a crazed racist in just the past few days. The hardest thing to realize in all of this is that this is only one of the many low points these days.

Still dragging feelings of being unwanted and unsafe, I came across a clip shared in a family chat. This is inspiring, my father’s WhatsApp alluded. Stubbornly clinging on to my attitude I rolled my eyes and assumed it was some random forward filled with motivational quotes. Still though, I decided to take a break from online trolls and have a listen.

When she introduced herself as a member of parliament, I had no idea who this person was even though the clip was a few months old. A woman who looked like me, wearing a shalwar kameez, speaking with a Pakistani accent peppered with an Australian lilt. Intrigued, I turned up the volume. Mehreen Faruqi went on to talk about the how the ground she stood on belonged to a different people. Folks who got there first, much before any white man’s ship ever found the place they called home. She insisted that the leaders of that house recognize how these people had once welcome them as immigrants. She described the exhaustion people like her — like me — feel about being cast aside simply because they are different. I felt her pain when she described the loud voices that have tried to shout away rights from people who don’t look like them. She gave words to the anxiety I’d had all week — of feeling unwanted simply because you’re from more than one place, or have a difference of opinion, or simply don’t fall in to the same box.

Standing tall and proud she said “mazrat chahatey hun, magar koi afsos nahi. Yeh mera ghar hai aur mein kahin nahin jaongi — sorry, not sorry. This is my home, and I’m not going anywhere.”

I felt as though a cloud had lifted. I remembered all the reasons why I refuse to context switch between both the countries I call home. I thought of all the people in my own community that are afraid just like I still am, but continue to march. Of the bravery of those who bring food, love and media attention to the kids that are still being ripped away from their parents. I walked up to the roof and took in the skyline of the city that continues to fight against destructive, divisive laws. Of all the women who use their words, their politics, their bodies to show up and fight for dignity. I reflected on how it is absolutely possible to have more than one home, skin tone, and cuisine and still belong. What it comes down to it, our collective differences are what make us beautiful and weird in the best way. After all, what is this life if it’s not about loving the delightfully quirky?

I listened to Mehreen’s words again, and then once again. I repeated her resolve — where I stand, here and now, is my home. And I’m not eff-ing off anywhere.

Designer, cofounder, bookworm, agony aunt-for-hire. I think everything is better with cake and kittens.