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network 24/01/2017 - 05:00PM

Lali Mohamed on a Post-Racist Canada - Nations & Migrations

The following piece “Go Back To Your Country” was written by Lali Mohamed. Lali is an African writer and public speaker who lives and loves on the intersections of Blackness, Queerness and Islam. In this meditation, Lali dismantles the comfortable truth* that Canada is a post-racist multicultural society. He movingly articulates the systemic anti-black racism and anti-immigrant xenophobia that exists in Canada to remind us that #BlackLivesMatter. Read Lali's full bio below.

 

Go Back to Your Country

I grew up listening to my mother reminisce of her youth, longingly share stories over shah and shushumow. “You come from a nation of poets, of story-tellers,” she’d say. To be sure, generations of women in our family penned prose on a peninsula that is washed by the Gulf of Aden and held affectionately by the Indian Ocean. But war uprooted our family. The threat of violence deported us, displaced us. It drove us out. We fled searching for freedom. In Germany. In Britain. In Canada. We settled here.

Go back to your country nigger. 

I was seven the first time I heard the word nigger, hurled at us like pennies thrown from a moving car. We were walking back from a doctor’s appointment on Weston Road. It wouldn’t be long until I realized violence met us here, too. The enduring vitality of racism – from the 90s to the current historical moment we find ourselves in - has always unsettled me. It is robust, unrelenting in its insistence to penetrate you.

Go back to your country nigger.

Somali families have survived crossing the Sahara Desert, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, only to lose our fathers to detention centres (indefinitely). Our uncles to prisons. Our sons to the bullet (of another man in another uniform representing another government). Our children to agencies.

Go back to your country nigger.

Sometimes, I think my mother wishes she could go back. I just wish they never came to ours first.

 

Lali Mohamed is an African writer and public speaker who lives and loves on the intersections of Blackness, Queerness and Islam. He is a deeply committed social justice advocate interested in the power and poetics of community-based knowledge. Lali has been leading community and organizational development initiatives for over a decade, working with international foundations, national human rights charities and local universities in developing innovative programming and building strategic partnerships. As an award-winning organizer and consultant, you can find him guest-lecturing at universities nationally or commenting on the issues of our times in the pages of the Globe and Mail, FADER and the CBC, troubling questions of race, sexuality and religion.

* #ComfortableTruths are mainstream attitudes and ideas about nationhood, belonging and identity that, despite not being true (such as "immigrants have it easy in Canada"), have become so engrained in the Canadian imaginary and mainstream culture that they become orthodoxy. As part of Cinema Politica's Nations & Migrations project we reached out to activists and artists across the country and asked them to share their thoughts and reactions to these so-called truths.

 

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