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Sharing Our Cultures For a Better Tomorrow

I’ll relay a message that I find quite important to understand as one goes through life - a message that I had hoped to learn younger, and one I hope every child learns as they grow and join society. Culture is far too important not to share, and one should be consciously aware of the abundance of cultures, religions and peoples that coexist in the world. Growing up, I was sheltered from the outside world and remained bubbled in the family and friends of family that closely resemble my people. The bubble I resided in was extended to the private school I attended which was home to a variant of Arabs and Muslims, mostly Lebanese like myself. My outings were limited and often depended on my parents and their choices. I then moved to Lebanon where I found myself once more surrounded by people like myself- however it wasn’t until then that I began to question the world around me. My friends belonged to religions or sects that were not on par with my teachings, so I began to ask questions. My mother answered them very wisely, and taught me that there are people of all religions and cultures outside my bubble and I should accept them all, learn from them and most importantly remain kind. 

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That thankfully allowed my growth to be quite open-minded, I listened, learned and accepted everyone. When I moved back to Ottawa, I befriended individuals from many cultures, made acquaintances with different religions and found myself drowning in the melting-pot that is Canada. However, I never had a problem with the differences, I was quite fascinated and more than happy to learn - I loved trying new foods, listening to stories of home-towns and rejoiced at the mention of culture and history. Alas, when I was met with racism and Islamophobia from those outside my circle I was left dumbfounded. I was hurt. I didn’t think other people thought differently - I couldn’t believe that there were people who didn’t want to learn about my culture or resented my religion. 

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Moreover, with what is happening today, I am left utterly speechless. The sanctity of passing as white protects men and women from the scrutiny of the public - especially in the eyes of higher-ups, leaders and law enforcement. I am astonished that when we marched, protested and cried out for equal rights for the people of colour we were met with horrid responses and made to suffer with similar consequences. I am horrified to note that our society as of today still refuses to consider people of colour as equals, and that racism still finds haven in the hearts of many. I fear for myself, my kin, and for people of colour  as we jointly walk in public. I believe it is vitally important - if not necessary - for parents to educate their children when they are young to be accepting and welcoming of differences, for that is the beauty of our world. We could not exist homogeneously, for our unique characteristics contribute to our collective beauty. I dream (not to quote Martin Luther King) of a world where racism rests in its shallow grave- and no one fears for their lives when doing something as simple as taking  a walk. And I firmly believe that this dream couldn’t be achieved unless we all remain educated, continue to learn, and relentlessly teach. But I do believe this is possible, and I think it is time for change to finally take charge. 

Susan Mokh

Queen's U '21

Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
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