Since the “victory” of Donald J. Trump, white nationalism has removed its own veil.
Layers and layers.
It has always existed. In fact, it is the original sin of America.
Even when I arrived here in 1995, I felt it.
It was all around me. I could smell it. I could taste it.
I hated it; and I knew what it was responsible for.
My fellow minorities. My own people. Me.
I didn’t learn I was “undocumented” until I turned 16.
My mother turned to me and said “Danny you aren’t like the other kids. You don’t have … papers… you can’t work.”
I was quite emotional. I didn’t take it well. How could anyone? The strange thing is, I kind of knew the implications. I always knew something was off about our stay here in America. Something was always wrong.
Even in the Middle East, we lived in Riyadh, and for a Syrian mother and Syrian-Armenian father, nothing could be further out of place for us.
It was as though America was always our destination. Our salvation.
But even upon our coming here – the struggle persisted.
20 years later, 2017 it continues.
2008 was our 1960. President Obama was elected. For the bitter colonial minded minorities it was “nothing to be proud about”. They’d returned to the slave mentality. For white nationalists, it was spelling the beginning of their doom.
His middle name was Hussein. And for a brown (olive) kid like me, it warmed my heart a little.
Then he passed DACA.
For a decade, I had lived as a ghost in a country that rejected me.
I worked under the table jobs.
But I cherish those moments. Some of the best moments of my life.
It was my version of the American Dream, the only difference is, my story would never be told. It would never be embraced. Because the majority of America is white, and doesn’t sympathize with the minority struggle.
That is precisely why the current president is a white supremacist.
I remember working with hispanics, moroccans, Jews, Tunisians & Libyans. We come from the Middle East (West Asia) where taboos prevent women from working and such. But America was much different. My mother could barely speak english. In less than 5 years, she became the manager of a jewelry store, financed my entire education and my sister’s education, cooked and cleaned for us, while my father worked tirelessly. All this and could barely make ends meet. I remember countless arguments over debts and money shortages. It was traumatic as a kid. I think I still have anxiety as a result of it. But the love was there. And so was our faith. We could never be separated. Not then, not now, not ever!
Things were different back then. Before 9/11 – people could find work opportunities and even go to school if their papers weren’t exactly “straight”. After 9/11 everything changed.
When I found out I could not attend university after high school I was devastated. All the work I put in meant nothing.
In my younger days my parents worked so much and my older sister was so occupied with school I spent most of days with friends, most of whom were ethnic of the lower stratum of the American socio-economic sphere.
That’s when I started diving into my creative side, inspired by my grandfather. Yervant Krikorian was the first Armenian-Syrian to ever attend MIT. Yes, you read that right. MIT, the famed technological institute in Boston. The problem was he didn’t stay long enough in the US for us to earn citizenship through him. He returned to Syria due to family circumstances and financial shortcomings. He earned his PhD; but his dreams were never realized.
I was meant to live out that dream.
My father would always tell me tales of our “fabled” Armenian royal ancestry and the magnificent wonder of my grandfather; the elegance of my great grandmother, a Cypriot-Armenian. I appreciated this all so much, but tragically it didn’t match up to the reality I faced as an immigrant at the bottom of the barrel.
Fast forward to 2017.
Currently I am a graduate student of political science at the University of Central Florida. It was Obama’s legislation that made this possible. Before DACA, I was even denied entry to a community college. It was literally through the miraculous help of a sympathetic hispanic lady that I managed to register at a local community college. But when Obama passed DACA, I was finally able to attend university. Even though I had the grades, I couldn’t before. I was in AP classes in high school. But it didn’t matter. Anyway, I was finally in at UCF – although at first, they too almost denied me for bureaucratic reasons. They literally didn’t even know what DACA was at the registration office it seemed. When I handed them my “Employment Authorization ID” they were dumbfounded. It was amazing that I could finally attend a major university. But because I was denied all forms of scholarships or federal financial aid which I overwhelmingly qualified for, I had to work during my college career, and my academic performance suffered. It did not stop me however. I was totally broken when I was denied entry to UCF’s MA program initially. After 3 years of just waiting I decided to reapply and was admitted. Now, I am in my final semesters in the program, and without any form of financial aid let me tell you it has been the most difficult journey. My family lives just near the poverty line…they can barely afford to help; themselves at best.
Trump’s government is “reassuring” ‘Dreamers’ all will be well but none of this was necessary to begin with. I’ve experienced and educated myself on racism far too long to be blind to the agendas of the current regime & its voter base.
A close friend introduced me to Hip-Hop when I was in my teenage years. Perhaps they saw my interest in poetry and music and thought to mold it into something more tangible and culturally relevant. I was learning to speak the Hip-Hop language.
It wasn’t until my dreams of educating myself and being a political leader were dashed that I retreated to Hip-Hop.
It was my outlet of expression. My solidarity. My refuge.
Just recently I released a song that captures much of what I am trying to say here. But I still felt the need to write this.
I am an Armenian-Syrian and I am a descendant of genocides, exiles & exoduses. I have seen my people subject to occupation and indignation, and I have experienced alienation literally in a country that denied my humanity for so long. Even after alleviating our pain and suffering and granting us some sense of normalcy, Obama’s legacy is being insulted and reversed by this white nationalist megalomania. Furthermore, American and global indifference towards the plight of those around the world engaged in similar struggles for liberation has delegitimized the image of this nation and & the value of liberty itself.
We must look in the mirror and ask ourselves about our own complicity in manufacturing these global crises which have devastated lives.
There is no time.
Please support me by listening & sharing my new song which reflects on the plight of all DREAMers seeking to protect DACA. The link is below. A special thanks to all community leaders, members of faith, friends, family, legislators & business executives for expressing solidarity, compassion & resistance in the face of this human atrocity. I pray for our deliverance and trust in the Almighty that it will be achieved. And for those who utter the Lord’s name hypocritically, for their own narrow agenda, are among the gravest of sinners. Amen.