A Somali trans woman died and how did we respond?

A 26 year old Somali, Canadian, trans woman by the name of Sumaya Dramar or Sumaya Ysl has been found dead about a week ago in Toronto, Canada. The news was devastating as well as tragic since some were speculating that she was murdered and others suggesting that the media didn’t care enough to report the death. I found out about this tragic incident through twitter, as always where I also find out about any other unreported news concerning minority communities. This news made me really sad. My first reaction was questioning what happened to her and my second was how come no one cared enough to report it. Obviously, I wasn’t alone in my thought process when I speculated that she might have been murdered because of her gender identity.

Although this news was depressing, it also made me proud to see a young Somali trans woman living her life boldly and fearlessly. It made me realize that there were indeed bold and fearless trans African women and men who use their personal liberties in western countries and live life unapologetically, even where we lack safe spaces in our communities for LGBTQ people of color. As I read more about Sumaya, I found out that she was involved both in the trans and Somali communities in Toronto, where was an advocate and was also featured in a film documentary showcasing her as a muslim trans woman of color. This was revolutionary to me because it revealed just how brave and courageous this woman was. Although I was very moved by this story, the response to Sumaya’s death was something I found alarming. It made me question if her Somali community loved her as much as she loved her community.

We, East Africans, specifically, horners (people from the Horn of Africa), responded swiftly to the situation urging Toronto police to take charge and investigate on the issue, but we could have done way more. There were many transphobic messages in the mix coming from many Africans suggesting how a Somali person could be this way, to the extent that some were happy to hear of news of her passing. This was upsetting because it made me realize the brutal life trans Africans have to live, even in countries where there are supposed personal liberties.

Although, many people outside of the Somali community acknowledged the tragic event and sent condolences, it was important that this was acknowledged by the immediate community. It holds so much power and resonance when those you love, love you back. It holds so much truth when those you identify with and hold close to your heart, also identify with you and hold you close to their hearts, it holds so much power those you acknowledge, also acknowledge you for the person that you are,  it holds so much love when those you care about and share struggles with, also care about you and see your struggles. It holds so much truth when those you respect also respect you back. It holds so much meaning when those you build, and love with also love you for who you are and fight for your will to live.

Like Sumaya, African LGBTQ people make up a portion of African communities. We need to acknowledge and love those who identify as they are and continue to hear LGBTQ African stories. It is an essential part of our existence to love those who maybe different from us especially in our own communities. We need to teach love and understanding, not hate and contempt. Rest In Peace Sumaya Ysl, you beautiful, beautiful soul, your legacy and inspiration will continue for generations to come. Thank you for living so freely and unapologetically.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Feeling so beautiful and so free

Valentine’s day just recently passed and I feel amazingly loved this year. I’m not sure what kind of energy I’ve been sending to the world, but I’m receiving a great kind of energy that feels amazing. I guess things start happening the minute you start to feel so free and beautiful. The minute you start letting go of things and start taking care of those around you, the minute you let go of all of those who have hurt you and  instead embrace all of the love you have within you.

To be honest, nothing drastically changed in my life from the year before, but I feel different this year. I feel more aware, more awake, more in tune with my inner self and more free. I’ve always had a free spirit and a great energy (so I’ve been told), but this year I feel like I’ve let go and started embracing myself on a more deeper level, attracting many good and beautiful things in my life. This has made me learn that nothing drastic has to be happen in order to feel good about yourself. At the end of the day, its all about the feeling and not necessarily the end result.

I love experiencing things on a profound level and I’m learning to love the process as much as the result. Many times we are so caught up with feeling of what the result is going to be, that we forget how to live in the moment and love what is right in front of us. We have been conditioned to believe that success is what happens at the end, and not in the beginning or in the middle. I’ve learned that everyday is a success if you make it to work on time, to your classes on time, if you’ve contributed to people’s good feelings, and if you’ve made someone feel good about themselves. It’s a successful day if you showed up, period.

Many times, people make you believe that success is some sort of a thing that can be measured or showed for, but it necessarily doesn’t have to be. It can simply be a feeling. A good feeling and nothing else. Being received by those you care about and the universe can be just as successful as anything else you might have imagined. This past Valentine’s day, I felt just that. I was received by those that I care about and realized that the universe has been so good to me. I felt so beautiful and so free and shared that beautiful energy with others. I hope you were able to do that too and continue to share all the good you have within you.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Prayer: an answer for mental illness?

I haven’t realized how much mental illness affected people until I started paying attention and noticed that there were some people who were not here mentally, while appearing to be here physically. We live in a world where we are constantly stimulated and distracted by our environments everyday, making it hard to pay attention to those who may be suffering mentally and need help.

Mental illness is a serious issue that needs to be discussed and tackled. Since its symptoms may not be seen in most cases, many people tend to ignore it, which is dangerous. We only notice the ones who have gone completely insane and can’t function, while ignoring it on those who are able to function. These are people who may have successful and stable careers, their own businesses, etc. but are also suffering. The problem tends to be in our denial that mental illnesses exist, therefore we don’t give it much room to exist. We only acknowledge it when it’s in an extreme form.

This issue needs to be tackled especially in immigrant, black and minority communities. Since we face harsher life styles and are in hostile environments, mental illnesses can be significant in our communities. Our inability to acknowledge its existence makes it difficult to seek help ourselves or help our loved ones who maybe suffering from it. I come from a community where mental illness is seen as a condition that can be solved through prayers and spirituality. Although I am a firm believer of prayer and healing, there needs to be more to mental illness than the usual “prayer” response we receive from many in our communities in reference to it. There needs to be more talk about therapy for those who may need it, we need to be more open about accepting medication as a means to treat mental illness for those who may need it, we need to break the cycle of not acknowledging mental illness when it’s in a form that we can’t see, we need to be more open to understanding people and seeing that they maybe suffering and need help, we need to break the taboo and talk about it, we need to do more to heal ourselves and our communities and that starts with acknowledging conditions that exist in our communities, instead of ignoring them.

If you are someone who think you may be suffering from mental illness, please seek help as soon as possible. There are those who are willing to hear your journey and your suffering, be more open about it and be open to alternatives like therapy and medication on top of the prayer you are doing. Talk to medical professionals. Talk to others about it. I hope you heal.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Free the love

Free the spirit

Free the positivity

Free the herb

Free the heavens

Free the soul

Free the earth

Free the powerless

Free the people

Free the continent

Free the grace

Free your God

Free the love

Free the love and

Free the love.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Finding myself as a writer

I’ve always struggled with the idea of living life for myself. I’ve always had such a strong sense of responsibility/ love for my community, family members and friends, and equated this love with doing things people in my community wanted me to do, instead of doing things I wanted to do for myself. Generally speaking, It seems there is more of a pressure on women of color/ immigrants to perform better, succeed and put in a great representation for ourselves as well as our community. This is a great thing because it gives meaning and purpose to our lives, however, it also has the ability to hurt our lives, if we don’t stay true to who we are.

I’ve been struggling on how to find my balance of living for myself while also giving back to my community. When I was younger, I used to seek validation from others. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, therefore, I wanted others to validate me and somehow steer me to the right direction. I didn’t start asking questions and getting answers from myself until very recently. I always looked outward for answers inside of inward, which was useless as well as tiring.

The change started happening the minute I realized that as a woman of color, it was necessary for me to know and stay true to myself while also holding all those aspects that were important to me, like community love, family love, etc. It wasn’t until I was well into my mid-twenties did I have this realization of validating myself and doing the things that I enjoyed. This was definitely important because it helped me live life through my experiences instead of others, this also helped me pay close attention to my journey and give it my own meaning and purpose instead of wanting others to give my life meaning and purpose for me.

This realization has helped me in making connections with my truer self and realize my potential. I’ve always liked writing but I didn’t start writing religiously until recently. I knew writing has always been apart of me but I never truly explored it until very recently, after getting some inspiration from young bloggers, who were writing regardless of their life situations and healing while doing so. I’ve always felt I had some kind of a passion to reach out to others but never knew what outlet I should be using to do so. After doing the work I needed to desperately do for myself, I decided to use writing as a means to inspire and reach out to others.

As women of color, it is very important to define our journey and realize our values, passions, desires and potential. This is the moment when we can truly change ourselves and be a voice for our community. Change comes in different ways and you don’t have to think of it as a one-way route. It’s different for many people. This is also the same for success. Many people find their breakthroughs in different times, and it’s good to be patient and trust ourselves that we’ll get there, while also putting in the real hard work we need. Yes, I have been able to find myself and the things that were important to me while also holding my heritage, family values, community love, dear and close to my heart. I’m very happy my journey happened the way it did because I was able to find my voice as a writer, and as a result create this space to write on. I hope you find your voice and your space too.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Meaningless arguments are just that, meaningless

As I was driving today, it hit me that I used to argue a lot with people. I used to want to make everyone believe in the same things I believed in. I was devoted and committed to my beliefs and wanted everyone to believe in the same morality system I believed in. I wanted everyone to fight for everyone’s rights like me. I used to argue to make my point and more over, convince people to the same belief systems I had. I realized that today, I’ve changed. I’ve changed tremendously. These days, I make a point if I have to make a point but I quickly move on from long-winded, empty, head-ache causing conversations. These days I find myself wanting to have effective communications instead of meaningless arguments with people. These days I find myself wanting to have conversations with same minded individuals who want to get enlightened and learn something new like me.

I used to think that by winning people over and convincing them to think in the same ways I did, that I was living my truth. I’ve learned that this shouldn’t be a way I operate. People should be able to feel, think, breathe, and exist how they feel. I’ve learned that I can’t really change anyone but myself. I’ve learned that having stimulating conversations are good and necessary but not with the mindset of convincing others, instead it should be done with the mindset of understanding others. I’m slowly but surely learning that I don’t have to have meaningless arguments with people who don’t understand my views or seek to understand me. All meaningless arguments are going to lead to is more headache and less peace of mind.

As I’m growing older, I’m choosing to have effective and stimulating conversations with others. I’m learning that age isn’t really an aspect that I should focus on to connect with individuals but experience should be my focus. Stories connect others, not the number of years a person has existed on planet earth. I’m learning to speak up when I need to but do so to create understanding instead of win the “argument”, I’m learning to be effective in my communication so that I shine my light onto others, instead of create a division and a “win/lose” scenario, I’m learning to minimize my arguments and create more conversations on issues that matter so much to me, I’m learning to talk about things that maybe uncomfortable to others but doing it in a non-intimidating kind of way so I can find a good solution from others, and finally I’m learning to avoid meaningless conversations, arguments and spaces that do not serve me and instead seek to find effective, stimulating and loving spaces that nurture and give me growth.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

I hope

As some of you might know, I also write my own poetry. I love expressing myself in art from because it feels so real and true to me. Check out this awesome poem I wrote a while ago and please get some encouragement from it, if you need it of course :).


I hope

I hope you learn to live

I hope you forgive

I hope you heal quickly

I hope you don’t hold grudges

I hope you meditate

I hope you cleanse your soul

I hope you learn to be

I hope you are unapologetically you

I hope you cry when you need to

I hope you love like you’ve never been hurt

I hope you laugh a lot

I hope you learn to be

I hope you live lightly

I hope you shine brightly

I hope your light attracts the energy that is meant to be

I hope you breathe easy

I hope you feel immensely

and I hope you see positivity.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Create the spaces

Many times I see plenty of people having dialogues on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or any other social media platform and it goes something like this: the oscars were so white, that TV show didn’t have representation of any people of color, that music video was degrading to women, that show was so heteronormative and so on and so forth. I for one, feel this way for the many stories that exist that represent people of color, and feel there is an urgent need to create these spaces so we continue to see ourselves being positively portrayed in media. However, I also see a lot of talk from many people and not enough action to create these spaces for women, immigrants and LGBTQ individuals, etc. I see a lot of passion from folks that do want to see many positive things happen in our communities, but not a lot of action. I’m in no way suggesting that we are not creating these spaces, but that there needs to be more effort from people who are passionate about this matter.

To name a woman I love who is creating amazing spaces for people of color and minority women is Issa Rae. As many of you might know she is the director and producer of Awkward Black girl and she has created a character who is both black and awkward in her web series, Awkward Black Girl. She’s also currently writing a book about this wonderful series. Before she created this black and awkward character, many people didn’t describe black people as “awkward” although there were plenty of black folks who were also awkward.  I mentioned Issa Rae to suggest that there are many young people of color, similar to Issa Rae creating these spaces we seek in media and contributing to the positive images of our communities, but simply put: we need more. We need more people to contribute what they can to create these spaces. Having these dialogues of not being included in mainstream media in a positive way is not enough, we also need to invest in more creation of our own spaces.

Positive spaces for minority groups is a must so we are able to see ourselves positively on TV, movies and shows. These spaces are important to tell the many positive stories we have in our communities. These spaces should exist as a validation to people of color, immigrant and minority groups. These spaces should exist as an indication that we also matter, these spaces should exist as a reaffirmation that black lives matter, these spaces should exist to showcase the positive dynamics of LGBTQ individuals, these spaces should exist to suggest that immigrant groups are as humane as other groups, these spaces should exist to tell the many stories of women of color, these spaces should exist to show us how awesome we are despite our many struggles and how much we have overcome, these spaces should exist to encourage us to keep going, these spaces should exist because we want them to exist, these spaces should exist because we want to own our integrity and tell our beautiful stories.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

My first blog post

Hello!!!

This is my first blog post on Activism Fusion. I am very excited to share the many things I am passionate about on my blog. I love to write, discover, inspire and be a voice to others. Everyday is a new beginning for me and 2015 just started, and with that the birth of this beautiful blog. I hope you all cherish and love this space as much as I do. I wish you all a very happy 2015. May you live in peace, happiness and love. May you discover all of your elements and the spaces that feel true to you. May you evolve and never stop changing. May you radiate your light and beauty to the world.

Peace and Love,

Hermela