Posts Tagged With: culture expansion

The Racism Rhythm

The amount of unfair treatment that happens on America soil is immeasurable, even in the most liberal and diverse cities. Though I have personally never been displaced, persecuted for my ethnicity or religion, or truly impoverished, I thought I knew what marginalization felt like by way of other avenues. My experiences may count as a mere thread of the ugly tapestry called discrimination.

I took a dear friend of mine, whom we will call Ameena, to morning coffee and to enjoy the long delayed rays of sunshine last Friday. We were long overdue for some one-on-one fellowship. Ameena is about the age of my own mom and is, like Mom, a mother of four. We met through my friendship with her outgoing,  youngest daughter right here in our apartment complex. We are neighbors. Ameena is an educated, swift, loving, resilient woman. She sought asylum here in America with her two daughters when conditions back home in Afghanistan became too dangerous to return to. Here she remained with no governmental support and, for a long time, no ability to apply for local identification, formal work, a driving permit, nothing. She managed life with her daughters until she was granted asylum and now works with an attorney to be reunited her husband and two sons who remain abroad. I knew she had endured much and was working hard for her rights to be respected in the community and at her on-call job as a translator. Nothing was being handed to her on a silver platter or any platter for that matter.

It hit me the other day that though I’ve heard many a story from my Muslim refugee friends about their lives since they’ve arrived here, there will never reach a point where it is time to stop asking for their stories. No, I racism_011bwill likely never be able to personally relate to what they’ve been through and are going through. Their stories from back home can be hard on the open ears and even more painful to the soft heart. Many of our refugee neighbors are willing to share their stories from a distant country, but not all are eagerly talking about the injustices facing them right here.

As Ameena and I talked, I told her that instead of speculating and speaking on behalf of much of the Afghan community in Sacramento, I wanted to hear from a first person perspective. I asked her what it was like to be in her skin, what trials and joys she experienced in this city, what it felt like to identify as a Muslim or an Afghan or both. She recounted many good experiences and expressed gratitude for several benefits of living in Sacramento, but it was the not-so-few and far between stories of racism that shocked me and hopefully shock you.

These stories will be  exposed in three parts in coming weeks.
Stay connected.
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We will look at how racism sparks negative reactions– real life stories about hate, threats, & ignorance. And we will hear real stories about how it can spur on positive establishments like being educated in the matter, standing  in genuine solidarity and experiencing trusting community.
** Stories will specifically reference Muslim immigrant racism, but concepts will apply to and regard all forms of racism occurring across the country.

“From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

Who are the ones regarded as “American” here?

Choose a Route
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Whether you look upon the new presidency with support or disdain, there is a choice to be made.
Do you exist and live for the benefit of yourself? Timeless teachers, prophets, geniuses, social advocates, martyrs, neurological scientists and figures of all kind teach time and time again that selflessness is the essence of joy and putting self first is the quickest path to your own mental and emotional ruin.

racism_handsBeside considering the consequences of your choices for our own sake, perhaps we also ought to consider Jesus’ verdict on the matter. He said that our treatment of the widow, the orphan, the shelterless or the immigrant parallels our treatment of Him. What we do for them, we do for Him. When we neglect them, mistreat them, and ridicule them, we neglect Jesus, mistreat Jesus, and ridicule Jesus. (Matt. 25:27-46)

These stories are not about causing permanent division. But on some matters, knowing both perspectives, choosing a side and following it with utter conviction is the first step of action. Concern yourself with your own thoughts, beliefs and measures of action first.
Out of love, hear stories. Out of love, know the facts. Out of love, model your convictions.
Truth speaks for itself.

Categories: General, Raft Amad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What am I doing?

So let’s be real. I’m a young, white gal living in the middle of Rocklin dueling as an Intercultural Studies (ICS) Major at a primarily white school. Is it just me, or does that seem to clash?

The newsflash: I’m going to Uganda for 4 months in August.
The not-so-newsflash: I am in for some major culture shock.

This is not the first time that I’ve been moved to expand myself culturally. Not at all. Honestly, I became an ICS Major at the end of Fall semester ’11, but had no idea what I was doing. I knew I had a heart for missions and I knew that our ICS program had a missions focus. It seemed reasonable.
Spring came and I was hit left and right with different cultural experiences. We’re talking those circumstances that go on right around you every day but you don’t realize they are there until one slaps you in the face. Yes, that. That was me. Charismatic worship sessions, Hindu temples, homosexual individuals, you name it.

Now, I know many of these things seem like an ordinary deck of cards to many, but I simply do not have this kind of across-the-board cultural knowledge.
The commonly asked question… was I sheltered? I’d say “no”.
There is a difference between sheltered and culturally unaware. I am the latter.

After having  beat myself up with my own words, though, I would now like to lean toward the positive side of the spectrum (and get a bit serious, too).
I began my adventure as an ICS Major with a passion for fighting sex-trafficking at the front of my mind. God has transformed that passion into a love for His gospel and willingness to be on mission…anywhere. I have strong convictions that,  as a Christian, I am on mission to spread the good news of Jesus wherever I am, whether it be in the sophisticated city of Rocklin or the slums of Haiti.

For those of you who can relate to these feelings of mine, you know that a love for missions can easily turn into an overflowing NEED for action. While trying to push, push, push for an outlet to release my willingness to serve and do exciting things for Jesus, the Lord just shut door after door.
This left me perplexed. Wasn’t I supposed to act out?
That’s when it occurred to me that the Lord just wanted to plant little culture seeds within me, one small moment at a time. I became assured that these moments of culturally expanding  my mind and experience were going flow steadily into my life as the Lord confirmed in my heart His reasoning. The way I hear it explained in my heart?
“Emily, I just need you to let me expand you as much as possible right now. That way, in the future, I can do so much more with you than you could ever have imagined on your own”.

So back to real life. This happens. I’m comfortable with simple life and the spontaneous culture moment with Jesus. I was planning on applying for studying abroad in Uganda during the Spring, but that was all in the far future. One night, I was about to fall asleep and I received a vision. I saw in my mind the words “Uganda, Fall” and listed before me were all the good reasons why going in the fall would be better than spring, as well as the exact due date for the fall application. This due date happened to be a week away. Seeing as visions are not a frequent occurrence for me, I thought it would probably be a good idea to apply. Also, feeling confident that the vision was from the Lord, obeying was a good path to take as well.
I applied, but honestly, would not have been surprised if the Lord shut yet another door. He was on a roll after all.

The day of answers came and I got accepted. Wrapping my mind around the concept of going to Africa simply did not happen, but I definitely announced it to everyone who crossed paths with me that day.

My thoughts now? Holy cow, I am going to Africa. I am going to shock my mind, body and spirit with new culture. First stamp on my passport: UGANDA.

It’s going to take a lot of mental processing, vulnerability, purposeful actions and reflection to prepare for this trip. And once it comes around, I will have much of the same work to do while I am there. But this blog is not named specifically for Uganda because this semester began a culture expansion journey for me. My 4 months in Uganda will be a huge landmark in this journey, but the journey itself will not be beginning or ending there. My capacity for culture will continue to grow. God has made that clear. It’s something that will be ever-changing, always shifting and a work in progress.

Categories: Uganda | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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