|About Me: Amanda Jamal|
I was forced to grow up sooner than i should have.
At least i think.
I come from a family of refugees-- no no, immigrants. Wait, savages? Or is it terrorists? I get confused. It seems these days they all mean the same thing.
I am Palestinian. Palestinian. Palestinian. Not israeli.
A proud, unapologetic, Palestinian, woman who was raised in a Syrian refugee camp between mountains of garbage, and kids who played soccer in the gravel streets every morning at 7 AM-- wearing flip flops that were far too big to hold onto their toes.
As soon as i set foot outside of that camp, as young as i was, i knew there was a problem.
Why did my neighborhood have gravel streets, and only beaten fruits and vegetables for sale in the market, while this place had roads paved so smoothly i can see the reflection of the light off the floor?
Why are there dumpsters on the ends of the streets here, while my block had a “corner” you tossed your sad trash into, knowing it would sit there for days before a waste truck came around?
Why was I stopped every damn time, coming into the United States to be pulled aside and asked if these people were my real parents? Was it because my mother was as white and spotless as a pearl and my father was as brown as the soil in Palestine?
The point is, i had questions. A lot of them. Questions that a child shouldn’t have had. Questions that challenged my brain's capacity. Questions that could only be stumbled upon if you’ve seen the world in a messy western and eastern point of view.
When was it that i stopped searching for words in Arabic to further express my feelings? When was it that I started calling mama “mom” and yabah “dad”? When was it that i stopped talking to my mom because all she knew how to speak was Arabic?
In 2010, (January 2nd to be exact) I saw my cousin get shot, in the head, within ten feet of me.
We heard gunshots and he came out to pull us off the streets. Ironic right? That the sniper picked him.
You don’t know how fast a body drops after being shot until you’ve seen it in person. It’s not like the movies; it’s not dramatic. They don't grip their hearts, fall to their knees, and have a chance to whisper their deepest secrets and wishes to you.
They just drop.
And then they don't exist anymore.
This was the beginning of MY war. Not the syrian war, not the Palestinian Israeli conflict, not the Assad vs. the people war, not the “civil war”. This was my war. My parents put me on the first plane back to the United States, and I never looked back. I fought that war in my head so many different times, as i still do.
A certain smell will remind me of the street vendors cooking in Syria. The way the sun shines orange onto my bedroom wall just a few minutes after sunrise on a clear day in August, reminds me of the spicey sun in Syria. The way the pigeons hum, as they rest outside on my air conditioner on a May morning remind me of the nest of birds that occupied my balcony so long ago. Are they still there? Part of me hopes they are. For the sake of my balcony, and my home, and the loneliness that dwells in it. How could a place of so much life at one point, become so deserted, so empty, so fast?
As i grew, and grew, with wisdom and years, i became passionate about social justice and my cultural issues. I educated myself through books that i had to dig for, because our textbooks don't tell you the story if we didn’t win. I came to John Jay College of Criminal Justice where i majored in Political Science, with a concentration in International Affairs, Human Rights, and Comparative Politics while also double minoring in Disputes Resolutions, and Economics. I became the treasurer of Students for Justice in Palestine, I became a delegate for our United Nations Student Association team, I became part of the Prison to College Pipeline Program, where I plan to work with incarcerated people throughout the upcoming year of 2017-18.
I saw a problem in the world. And i saw no solution. I’ve sat down and tortured myself with listening to talks and talks and debates and UN resolutions and news.
It. has. done. nothing.
Nothing but send airstrikes and chemical warfare raining down on Syria, and give israel another Palestinian village to occupy.
They say “If you want something done right, do it yourself”.
And that's exactly what i plan on doing. I want to work on an international level, at the highest levels of international government, anything, that will give me a platform to speak.
I would like to close by saying that us Arabs, Middle Easterners, Mozzzlims, whatever you want to call us, are not just any savages or terrorists. We are your savages. Your terrorists. Created by you.
|About My Design|
Red, green, black, and white, are the colors of my Syrian and Palestinian flag. As you may have read from above, i trace everything back to my heritage and where I come from. It has shaped and molded me into a person i can no longer ignore. It has influenced the way i see the world, others, and myself. My header, as well as my background are pictures of children with the famous Palestinian “Kuffiyeh”, scarf on. Although having been popular long before the movement, it especially became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism during the Arab Revolt of the 1930s, all through today. This scarf resembles the “movement”, and our resistance against israeli and western forces, that have been colonizing, illegally occupying, and forcibly, violently pushing us off our land for the last seventy years.
On my background picture, under the boy, it says “Long Live Free Palestine” in english and arabic
“تحيا فلسطي حرة”. Both my background and header pictures are extremely iconic to me because they include kids. Like myself, these kids were forced to grow up much earlier than they should’ve. The kids of Palestine are imprisoned for up to twenty years for merely throwing a rock at an israeli soldier threatening them with guns three feet long. These kids are taught to work, provide, and survive on barely anything. Most of them are traumatized, and most of them are unaccounted for.
I, myself am blacklisted, and banned from entering Palestine (as are many of my club members here in John Jay College). The land in which my parents were born, the land in which i had been dreaming of my whole life... I am too “politically active” in the United States, and therefore considered a threat to israel. The fear of introducing Palestinian people to outside, educated, politically active people, is too much for them to handle and too much of a risk. I will however, return. I will return, and paint my life in red, green, black, and white.
Other than the significance and history of the colors, the technicality is that they pop in your face with their high radiance. They are hard to ignore. They are bold, bright, and livening. They continue and enhance my theme of heritage, indigenous, freedom fighter, justice, women, and savage.
I can only hope that these colors influence you, the way they have influenced me. I hope that these faces and colors inspire you to look into some research of your own, and learn both sides of the story, instead of relying on what you are told. The conflict in Palestine is not a war. It is not two equal sides fighting each other; it is oppressor, and oppressed. Unlike israel, Palestine is not permitted to have a national army, navy, air force, military, etc. they have rocks.
|My Design Process|