When I Stop Asking for my Rights

I’m a 23 year old Sinhalese woman in Minnesota by way of Dubai by way of Sri Lanka. I am a Womanist, and part of my womanism is figuring out how to be in solidarity with my transnational sisters worldwide. I’m a daughter, a sister, a partner and a writer. I’m a brown girl who knows Shakespeare by heart and devours anything Toni Morrison. I believe in radical, revolutionary living and loving.  I blog at Irresistible Revolution.

**To those who think international students of color have no business demanding rights in the US**

I’ll stop demanding my rights,

When I can open the history books and see my people’s faces
When I can turn on the TV and see them as humans, not caricatures
When you stop complimenting me on my English like you’re doing me a goddamn favor
(Who the hell are you to ascribe yourself the importance of evaluating my language skills?
I’ve been reading Shakespeare on my own since I was 14 and I can out-write you and yours
any damn day of the week).
I’ll “stop complaining”
When international students are treated as human beings
When we can work to support ourselves through college
When we can speak our languages without you complaining
When you step out of your privileged bubble and acknowledge that the REST OF THE WORLD has accents, and no, they do not make us stupider or less developed than you. WE are bi, tri and multi-lingual, while YOU complain if someone sounds even slightly different than you when speaking the same damn language. Still think we’re the backward ones?
I’ll quit speaking up
When you acknowledge my people’s contributions you so eagerly gobble up
Like yoga,
Like spicy, nourishing food.
Like Buddhism.
Like turquoise and magenta on silk saris
Like henna.
I’ll “go back” and “get out”
As soon as you pull out the corporations from our countries that employ (exploit) my people for sub-human wages to make your sport-shoes and your jeans
As soon as you pack up your military bases
As soon as you return the 400 plus years of wealth and resources plundered from our nations
As soon as you give me back the fluency in my mother’s language I sacrificed for fluency in yours, just so I could have a better chance in the world.
I’ll stop demanding my rights
When my passport grants me hassle-free travel to any part of the world I choose
When my face and skin are hair are advertised as beautiful
When I can get married without your government breathing down my neck
When I can get married at all
When I don’t have to fight for my people’s representation in schoolbooks and classrooms
When I don’t have to counter lies, myths and denial of my people’s humanity every single day.
So, yes, I’ll stop demanding
When my rights
my people’s rights
Everywhere around the whole freaking world
Are as guaranteed
As yours.

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