A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 3 [updated]

The post has been updated to include Xuux’s interview.

By Dana Abdhulay

Dee    

dee
Photo by Dee.

What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?

My family. They always encouraged me and my sisters for our education, and they gave us full support even if they did not have financial resources — they still cheered and supported us.

What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?

Here in U.S. — when I came, it’s totally different than my previous lifestyle and experiences, because the U.S. is different than any other country. It’s a parallel world; for example, here your degree is not recognized and your education and experiences mean nothing if you’re coming from a different country. Here when I applied to some jobs, nobody even called for an interview. It’s kind of challenging, because you are learning something and then you decide to start from zero, and [are] having new experiences and trying totally new things.

Have you ever faced difficult challenges, that have prevented you from being who you are?

Free speech. Even if I’m here in America, I’m not a citizen so I feel my free speech is limited, it’s not easy. I think the most important thing for me is freedom.

Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?

When I apply for jobs, and when they see my name … they don’t even call me because of the stigma. “Sounds like a Muslim or Middle Eastern” — that’s why they don’t even call. Discrimination against ethnicity and religion — as I said earlier, since I’m not a U.S citizen I don’t have the right to fight back. All these rights, amendments, etc., apply just for the citizens.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

My mother and father, they are strong figures for us as a family.

What are you most afraid of right now?

Losing my health. I am concerned about my health.

What’s the happiest moment of your life? Saddest?

Happiest: the days with mother and father, the old days. Saddest: losing your parent.

From your own experience, what is the advice that you would give to someone who’s going through the same thing?

I would give it for women: Don’t give up, fight back. Believe in you, believe in yourself. You can do anything if you want.


Xuux

 

xuux
Photo by Xuux.

What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?

 

My will on seeing the positive aspect in everything. I try not to watch the news. I hate violence — I can’t see children die and getting murdered where I can’t do anything about it. I try to keep myself positive and focused on what I’m doing by preventing myself from  seeing the dark side of the world.

What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?

From all the experiences that I had growing up while moving from one country to another, meeting different people from different cultures and backgrounds. I learned that we are all the same. I don’t see different skin colors, I don’t care how you decide to dress yourself. I respect others’ beliefs and opinions even if it’s different from mine. At the end we are all the same; only what is inside of us matters.


Have you ever faced difficult challenges that have prevented you from being who you are?

When I was in high school about two years ago, a time when the Paris attack took place. I was in the metro station going back home from school; a lady approached me and said “When is next?” She said that since I’m a hijabi Muslim girl. I was surprised and shocked at the same time, and my anger drove me to respond “right now, right here.” I was only a high schooler, I hate violence as anybody else, and I was sad like everybody [about] what happened in Paris. It was surprising to me for someone to come and judge me and ask me such a question. I went back home crying to my mom. I did not go to school for couple of days after, trying to prevent myself from prejudices.

Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?

Yes, towards me, as a minority black Muslim woman who’s wearing a hijab.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

Besides my mother, Edna Adan would be my role model. She challenged cultural stereotypes on women. Boys in Somalia would have the right to finish their education and get to higher education, whereas women would stop after middle or high school and their work would be aimed inside their homes. Edna Adan challenged this kind of stereotype and continued her education in the U.K. She became a midwife and now she has three hospitals by her name in Somalia.

From your own experience, what is the advice that you would give to someone who’s going through the same thing?

Be positive, be happy and let every minute count. We are here in life for a temporary time, there’s a greater life after: Enjoy every moment and see the positivity in any and every little thing you do or [that] is around you.

What are you most afraid of right now?

I’m afraid that one day I would wake up and be Trump or Hitler or someone like that, a person that has hate towards others and a bad will. A kind of person that I will never want to see myself as […] or in their position.

What’s the happiest moment of your life? Saddest?

Saddest might be when my father past away. It was a conflict between him and another person, and he lost his life in that conflict. That person was not satisfied by my father’s death and he wanted to come after us, getting a revenge from me and my siblings. We had to move to another place to save ourselves — in fact it’s not just another place, but it was another country. We moved from Somalia to Turkey, a country that we don’t know of, different people who speak a different language, different culture and lifestyle. We can be easily noticed because of our different skin tone. Fortunately, it didn’t take that long till I learned the language, went to school and [became] part of that society. We spent seven years in Turkey, a place that I called home, a place that I’m familiar with; but we moved here to the U.S. We were used to that feeling of moving from one place to another, so it wasn’t a big shock moving to the U.S.

I have a lot of happy moments. As I said, I’m a positive person and I see happiness in everything. I appreciate everything that I have and everything that is around me.

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