Would you speak out about your own culture if given the appropriate platform? A high school student with Muslim roots shows why advocacy is everyone’s responsibility.
Activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai is quoted as saying, “I speak not for myself, but for those without a voice–those who have fought for their rights, their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.”
In this day and age, it’s vital to speak our minds and express our hopes and concerns. It’s vital that both men and women add their voices to issues they can best respond to–and it’s vital that we, as their audience, listen. It seems like a simple thing to do, but judgement often hinders the ability to grow.
Since thousands of Syrian refugees have recently made their way onto American soil looking for safety, the act of listening has become an act of unity. By the same token, it seems as if more people are not only slowly willing to listen, but to also make their voices heard. One such person is 15-year-old Isra Mohammed, a Muslim high school student who recently fell victim to an onslaught of hate and ridicule by her peers following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The personal, verbal attacks prompted her to prepare and deliver a speech to her entire school in the video shown above–a speech that has swept across social media and was recently featured on Upworthy.com. Her presentation was highlighted by a number of bullet points including perspective, equality and life as a young Muslim woman.
“If you are throwing out masses of hate, you are helping ISIS,” she explained to her peers. “After the events that took lace in Paris on Oct. 13, there’s a lot of negativity in the media about Islam.”
Mohammed displayed a photo with two sides as an example of this. One side depicted what looks to be protesters or radicalists defacing the American flag; the other showed men in bulletproof vests, holding riffles at gunpoint. She then turned to her classmates and asked, “What are your thoughts on this picture?”
She went on to talk about her pride in being a Muslim, and how grateful she was to represent the idea that not all individuals from her culture are what the media portrays to be. She also noted she didn’t expect her presentation to change the minds of everyone in attendance, but hoped it would at least give people something to think about. She succeeded, because she received a standing ovation.
The issues surrounding culture–whether it’s Muslim, Indian or the latter–need to be seen as joint issues. They shouldn’t be segregated as just a men’s issue or just a women’s issue. If one voice isn’t loud enough to convey a message, mankind should be able to rely on his neighbor to make sure the message–and the voice–grow to a level where people know they exist.
It seems as if Isra, much like Malala, has found sound something she can respond to. So, what about the rest of us? What will we respond to, if given the chance?
Latest News India/Youtube