What happened to the sweet nothings
We graciously showered each other with?
When did we lose all hope
And decide to give up so easily?
The hallways are empty
There’s no laughter here anymore
What did they say?
Love don’t live here no mo’
The kids are gone
Now we must face each other
Shed the fake smiles
And façade of busy-ness
It’s just us, babe
It’s our fault
No one is blameless
We’ve avoided each other
Hiding behind rearing children
And raising a family
That we forgot to love each other
And now we’re here
Face to face
But empty hearts
It’s our fault
We didn’t nurture our love
The way we nurtured our children
Now we’re two strangers
Sleeping back to back
Wishing we were anywhere
Yet so far apart
Can we cross this ocean?
Will you swim towards me?
Even a little?
I’m willing to try
I was speaking to my cousin yesterday about the kind of art that I tend to make: morbid, sad, melancholic, etc., and how I didn’t know how to reconcile that with the kind of activism I’m passionate about.
Is it a self-fulfilling prophesy to say,”I’m actually a sad person, and thus I like to make art for the sad, broken soul?” I write about some pretty morbid stuff, and I don’t shy away from uncomfortable topics, or from writing in detail about traumatic events.
Some people may call it trauma porn. I call it catharsis. We each have our own ways of healing.
When I started this sexual assault awareness campaign, I didn’t think about my own personal work. I only thought,”I’m sure there are people who are struggling in our community, which loves to sweep everything under the rug and pretend that nothing bad happens, and maybe I could provide an outlet for people to share their stories, so others can KNOW this actually does happen in our community.” Before a problem can be solved, we must first acknowledge that it exists. We’re struggling with that part, and this was an attempt to bring that to light. Sexual misconduct/abuse does occur in our community, and its often goes unnoticed because the victims, often female, are shamed into silence.
Whilst doing that, I also get back to the business of writing, because that’s my spirit. I write to get everything out. I write especially when I’m sad, but I realize now that I lied when I said I do my best work when emotionally distraught. I haven’t been able to produce any work that I’m proud of this week, because there has been a dark cloud over me, and all my demons are home. Especially one big Shaytaan who has a way of throwing me off and making me crumble, no matter how much time passes, and no matter how much I think I’ve built myself up.
So since I’ve been unable to write anything new, I looked at some old work to share, and they’re all morbid, sad, taking the worst way out, etc., and I thought, “I can’t share this! I don’t want people to be sad, or think of suicide as a way out, and especially if they’re already there, I don’t want anything that I write pushing them over the edge!”
How much are we responsible as artists for what other people take from our work?
Do I have to make a choice? Do I have to choose between artistry which keeps me alive, and activism which also ignites my soul? If so, how do I make that choice?
Do I choose art, because without it I cannot live, and step back from the arena of activism?
How do I as a loudly outspoken person step back from activism that is personal to me as a woman, and as a global citizen?
July 4th – America’s independence from Britain. Damn those Brits, btw, they’ve literally colonized half of the world. How many countries are celebrating their, “independence from Britain?”
Somali Americans, is this our true holiday?
Wait. Hear me out.
Many of us have been in this country for a long time. Some of us were born here. The Somali state collapsed in 1991. We’ve spent our most formative years here. We went to school here, and some of us have moved on to have children here. Our lives here are cemented, our connection to Somalia minimal. Many of us are citizens and have promised to renounce any other citizenry. Did we lie?
I am also one of those people who are nostalgic for Somalia, but most times reality sets in. What is there for me in Somalia? Myself, a self-proclaimed loud mouth heathen who has so much to say about culture, religion, and society? What would I do there? What would I do in a country whose President and officials have to be guarded by AMISOM, soldiers sent from other African nations, and life is cheap? You could say the wrong thing, or look defiantly at a police officer, and there goes your precious life. Gone in a flash. Where many of the things we take for granted here, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association to name a few, are nonexistent.
A land where your only protection is your clan, and your genitals; if you have the right ones.
But America is testing my patience and love for it right now. This is supposed to be the greatest country in the world. Many flock to this country from all over the world. The land of the free. But how free am I when I’m worried about my black son being gunned down by those who have sworn an oath to protect and serve? How free am I when Donald Trump is the POTUS making us officially the laughing stock of the world? How free am I when I’m worried about my visibly Muslim sisters and cousins? How free am I when immigrant children are separated from their parents and locked up in cages?
Both seem pretty bleak, right?
Personally, I don’t know MY connection to July 4th. None of my ancestors were here then, and people who looked like me, black people, were enslaved. There was no independence for them. However, my experience as an immigrant is different from African Americans whose history in this country goes back generations, and it’s not a good history. But I do know that it can be worse.
As I ruminate on these things, I think of how do we move forward?
Can I recognize that yes this country has a sordid history when it comes to minorities, and even currently with Trump’s immigration policy, AND still love this country as it has given me, an immigrant, a chance at life? Is it tone deaf to say,”I love this flawed nation. It has given a chance at life. God bless these United States?” I cannot just flatly say this is a terrible country. Period. It isn’t for me, because I wouldn’t trade America for my homeland, and neither would many other Somali Americans, if they’re 100% honest. Even those deported to Somalia say they feel they are in a foreign country in Somalia than when they were in America.