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Tamara (Community Spotlight)

There’s this running joke in our community that Palestinians always have to tell everyone around them that they are Palestinian. A big part of that is because our homeland is actively being stolen and taken in front of our own eyes. What’s even worse though is that not only do Palestinians face mass genocide, but they also face cultural genocide. While our lives are brutally taken away, our culture is being stolen as well. Huge historical Palestinian archives containing so much beautiful history about our land were burnt down and erased from this world in a matter of minutes. Our own people are prohibited from learning our history. This is why as much as it is a joke, it is also important that everyone knows that we are Palestinian because that's one of the few things that we can control一our voices; shaping a new history for our future generations while remembering and embodying the strength of our ancestors.

You can tell how much one loves their country when all they do is talk about the country, share its culture, tradition, and uplift their people in any way possible. I remember when my cousins crossed into Palestine through Jordan’s border for the first time this past summer. It was such an exciting yet bittersweet moment, setting foot in your homeland, but also worrying about the troubled state your country is in. They sent us photos, smiling, cheering, and just seeing that made me realize that the Palestinian spirit is still there, in all of us. No matter what, we will never lose our connection to our homeland and our people. The settler wins when they replace us and we no longer have that connection to our identity. But one thing the settlers have yet to realize is that no matter how many generations pass, they will never succeed.

While at Cal, I wanted to apply my educational background and skills towards my Palestinian identity. While minoring in Linguistics, I decided to focus one of my course projects on the frequency of words related to Palestine before and after major events such as the Nakba – when many Palestinians were displaced from their homeland by the creation of the new state of Israel. I realized my passion for storytelling and documenting Palestinian history after learning about my grandmother's story and how she was born and raised in a society that was eventually overrun by zionist settlers. As the Nakba generation, my grandmother included, slowly leaves this world, their stories slowly fade as well. As a young Palestinian myself, I know others like me would want to know about their grandparents' and their parents' stories. It’s scary how if I hadn’t asked my grandmother to share her story, fewer people would know about what she went through. Today, if I know any friends or family members visiting Palestine, I ask them to document their trip and their experiences because I am a huge advocate for sharing stories to increase community relations and document the resilience and beauty of our history in our own Words.

To my fellow Palestinian brothers and sisters, don’t ever allow yourself to be in a place where you feel like you have to compromise parts of your identity. I am a proud Palestinian, Muslim Woman and I have learned over the years to avoid situations where I feel like I cannot play those roles freely and comfortably. This is who I am. This is what I believe in. No one should be allowed to change that.

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