Resisting the gaze of being “other”: أنا عربية يمنية أميركية

Yemen has been a wonderful time, its definitely not going to be my last trip here but I decided to share some thoughts and feelings I have been having throughout this incredible journey.

As a little girl, adolescent, and young adult, I longed for a strong identity. Yes my family and I are Arab; but we lived for the most part as Americans—doing what Americans were supposed to be doing, acting how Americans act, and speaking like Americans speak.

As a Arab American, the journey to finding and being able to assert my  identity has been an especially confusing, yet enlightening experience. As a Arab American in the United States, you are a stranger and an outsider in your own country. You are not welcome in the country, which you were born in nor the country from which your parents, grandparents and ancestors come from. You have a feeling of emptiness because you feel stuck and confused.

if you adhere to your culture and language, you are an outsider, and a traitor and at the same time, if you give in and assimilate, you are an outsider and traitor to yourself, your community and your family. So, it becomes evident that the issue of Arab American identity in the United States is extremely complex and involves many different intersections of U.S. social, political and economic spheres, and also many intersections of the self.

Upon arriving to Yemen, I set out to meet my extended family while also trying to find my closest political comrades to get a sense of where I might fit in the social activity here.

Then I met the SupportYemen crew, Abdurahman, Alaa, Sarah, Atiaf, Ahmed, Hamza, Najat, Osamah ,Alma, Hana, Naseem and Brooj. While borders had lied in between us, deep founded connection and intertwined roots transcended our divisions and connected us to one another. Our grounded experiences and our reflections as Arab leftists have served as a testimony to these connections, and to the evolution of our shared identity characterized by our shared struggles, burdens, and questions across various geographical locations, genders, ages, classes, religions, and the experiences we live based on these political categories.

My journey led me to discovering culture and self-determination and reclaiming my Arab identity. It is here in Yemen that I began to really understand what it means to be also Arab and Yemeni.

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