As part of National Coming out of the Shadows week we are highlighting the stories that were told in Chicago on March 10th, 2011, during our own coming out rally. This was the first time that an ally, meaning someone who is not undocumented, also came out in our support. Razan is a college student and a member of IYJL.
My name is Razan Abu-Hashish and I am an ally.
Growing up I had always felt that the immigration issue was taboo. After the 9/11 attacks, I remember hearing the whispered tones of the elders in the Arab Muslim community discussing undocumented immigrants leaving the country in fear of discrimination and uncertainty.
A few years later I was sitting in a computer lab when in an effort to make light of a situation that I found both awkward and confusing, I cracked a joke about my mom trying to find a citizen wife for my brother. My lab partner, Cindy, started laughing and confided that she was actually in the same boat.
In our search to find help for Cindy’s college situation we found ourselves sitting at an immigration event just a mere month later. That day Cindy came out and spoke about her life as an undocumented student to a room full of people. As her speech was coming to a close we made eye contact. When the reality that her secret was now out in the open hit us, we burst into tears. It was at that specific moment that I remember thinking “if Cindy can do this, the least Razan Abu-Hashish can do is go to a few meetings from now on”. It wasn’t my brother or watching friends and families disappear from my community that sprung me into action. It took seeing my friend cry and hearing other undocumented youth come out that made me make that choice. The least I could do is get past any of my personal insecurities and fears.
Mama, Baba, I am going to stay out late because I’m going to act, go to meetings, organize and speak out. And no, you are wrong. This issue does affect my life.
Friends, classmates and professor, use the word undocumented. I can and WILL walk out of this conversation. Your judgements no longer hurt. Staying silent and allowing the forces of hate to continue THAT hurts. I am ready. My name is Razan Abu-Hashish. I am an ally, I am unafraid and I am unapologetic.