As Yemenis Lead to Freedom, Yemeni-Americans Fall Short
As Yemeni men, women and children march to freedom; they are met with abduction, beatings, and live ammunition. Unlike Americans, they don’t have the luxury to freely express themselves without putting their lives on the line. Since the start of the uprisings, about 200 have sacrificed their lives for the cause, for a better Yemen. Here, we struggle, we fight, and we bleed, just to MARCH! Just to use our voices. Something apparently MANY Americans take for granted. As we march in the masses and watch our fellow brethren fall in agony and die slowly, as we march and watch our youth stain our streets with their blood, we look to the outside for solidarity and support. We yearn for our brothers and sisters abroad, our other half, to comfort and reassure us.
I am so disappointed. I am enraged. I am everything but proud of my fellow Yemeni-Americans. A group of committed Yemeni-Americans have worked with great effort to organize a massive march in solidarity for Yemen for Friday the 13th. Yet, it seems like our woman have passed into oblivion. In a tiny crowd of 500 Yemeni men were only two women. This is a shame. It is a slap in the face to our struggling Yemeni revolutionaries, and an injustice to our martyrs whose bodies are still warm in their graves. It is pathetic and inconceivable.
Wednesday, I participated in a march that ended in mass causalities and fatalities. We stood against a barrage of bullets and deadly force for eight hours. We witnessed women determined to march no matter what danger lied ahead. We witnessed a water canon truck toss our youth around like bowling pins, and a female demonstrator jump onto this truck in front of the driver’s window to block it. We watched snipers take down demonstrators like target practice. And we watched some of our youth breathe their last breaths.
We witnessed heroic acts of average citizens.
While our men and women faced death and brutality for 8 hours, our Yemeni New Yorkers didn’t find the need to participate in a 2-hour rally. Two hours may seem like too much. Is Yemen not worth it? This makes me sick. I am outraged and infuriated.
In the land of the free, we remain closed-minded and have secured our own chains and bound our own noose. We are killing each other and ourselves. We demand change yet we remain the same. We expect change in others but don’t have the audacity to change ourselves. It is pitiful and deplorable.
To my fellow Yemeni men, open your minds. You want change? Than work for it. For those men who don’t care and value backwards tradition over what is right, keep your misogynistic views at the bank with the loads of money you hide, as if you’ll take it to your grave. My Yemeni brothers, encourage your women to be the leaders that they are. Show them that their lives aren’t confined to the dimensions of their kitchens. Show them they are of greater value to our society. That they are essential to our growth! We also come from a culture that seeks short-term solutions and quick fixes, a tradition reflected and passed on from our own government. Invest in your sons and daughters through education. Remind them of the privilege they have to free education in the US unlike Yemen, where children are left to the streets to beg for the day’s food ration. Brothers, you come from a culture of deeply rooted honor systems. We are taught to honor one other and ourselves. Where is our honor now?
To my fellow Yemeni women, understand your rights. Know your value. You are a vital part of our society. You are strong and don’t let anyone convince you that your empathy is your weakness. In the US you possess rights that women are fighting for here in Yemen today. Support your sisters here in Yemen. Make time for them. Your time isn’t more valuable than their lives. Organize and assemble. Create support groups. Encourage one another!
Yemeni-Americans, yes you are all in the US, be thankful. Don’t forget your roots. Don’t forget the land you came from. It is in need of your support. Let’s place our vanity and materialism aside and turn our attention to our brothers and sisters. They are dying. They are fighting for the land you have forgotten. Wake up! We have become so consumed in our lives in the west that we have forgotten the reason for our Diaspora. We came from a land of corruption. A land that is unprepared for our future posterity. We fled hunger and injustice. But these problems did not leave with us. They remain and the people who are less fortunate to escape these conditions have been forced to face it and own it. Where is our mercy? Where is our empathy? Where are my humble Yemeni-American men and women? Where have they gone?
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