Decolonizing Our Minds

It’s really hard to exist in Somali community or any ultra conservative community as a woman with her own mind and full autonomy over her own body. Challenging patriarchy, which is often supported by both culture&religion, is often seen as an affront and betrayal of your culture.
 
If you say religion is a problem because it infantilizes women and robs us of our autonomy and full humanity, you’re accused of being Islamophobic. This to me is a silencing tactic. I’m quite tired of it, tbh.
 
Religion sanctions and enables patriarchy and abuse by patriarchy. It infantilizes women and puts men in charge of us. It attaches our bodies to sin by virtue of being born women. We have already committed a crime by being born woman.
 
When decolonizing our minds, why can’t we talk about how religion suppresses critical thinking, advising that you should never question it even though what it demands at times goes against common sense, and even common decency?
Our morals shouldn’t be governed by the religions of our forefathers. If I say, I don’t practice Islam, Somalis who are in a constant battle across tribal lines, and committing all types of atrocities to one another, want to make me look like I’m a bad person.
 
What defines a bad person? Your actions? Or that you profess to believe in the God of Abraham? There’s no point mentioning any other tenets because often people just want to know your affiliation. They don’t care what you do really as long as you stay loyal to your birth right.
 
That’s divine, apparently, and the one and only true path.
 
How convenient that the religion you were born into is the correct one?

Call me Intrigued

” Nothing was too disgusting, even dead skin we peeled off our feet.” Abdi Iftin,”Call Me American.”
 
Earlier in the week, I saw a facebook post mocking this sentence. I read how people in their comfortable Western lives mocked desperation and the physical need for food.
 
I wondered: Have they never known hunger? Even if was due to them accidentally forgetting to pack for school or work, and then feeling so dizzy and hangry by the time they got home, or were able to get some food?
 
Even that is quite unbearable. But atleast,one knows that they’ll get food as soon as possible. It was not a matter of if they’ll get food, but when.
 
As Muslims, didn’t they fast 14,16,18 hours at times feeling the hunger pangs, dry mouth, confusion, and irritability that comes with hunger?
 
This lack of food was their own choice, however, and they knew food was guaranteed as soon as the sun set.
 
How could they not relate to hunger? How could they not imagine then not having guaranteed food, and how this could drive someone to eat almost anything to survive?
 
Even I, who’s never known real hunger, other than not eating when I’m supposed to and deeply regretting it when working out, or in the classroom with 30 rambunctious teenagers, could imagine this hell. Real hunger. It terrifies me.
 
“Desperate situations call for desperate measures.” Most people know that.
 
Where was their sense of humanity?
 
As I’m learning more and more about my own people, some things are becoming clearer.
 
I am realizing that although we may come from the same ethnic community, we can be very different people with different life experiences, different social classes, which can then pave way for different opinions on different aspects of life.
 
That should be common sense, right?
 
Well….
 
When you’re an ethnic minority outside of your homeland, your people become a singular entity, devoid of their own individual characteristics. I used to wonder why Somalis were so offended by my choice to not wear hijab, or my nerve to openly question religion. They would say things like,”We don’t do that.” And my Somali American self would say,”Who is WE? I’m just me.” *Kanye shrug *
 
I’ve realized just as outsiders see us as a singular entity, we also see ourselves that way.
 
“We’re Somalis, and this is what Somalis do or don’t do.” This leaves no room for individuality. This leaves no room for mistakes. This leaves no room for dissenting voices, or difference in opinion.
 
I have a lot of thoughts about the book, the discussions online, and about Somalis: our clan dynamics (author is from a minority clan, and I’m sure this influences discussions), group think, and lack of individuality, that I hope to share in the coming weeks.