As the ink slowly seeps through the fabric of my shirt, I begin to understand that being a conscious Arab comes with a cost. Day 7: I come across a live stream on social media, 1,200 Palestinian political prisoners are on their seventh day of a hunger strike against the Israeli occupation. I allow myself to follow the news daily through social media while regional mainstream media and our local news channels refrain from reporting any news of the strike. I feel helplessly overwhelmed, not wanting to confront reality, but I force myself to anyway; actively searching, refreshing my phone to tune into live streams from protests, plugging in “Palestinian hunger strike” on the search engine to stay connected to the cause.
When asked about my background, I wouldn’t say that my father’s family is Ugandan, but that they were expelled from the country by the dictator Idi Amin.It is with faith in those human values that I look towards a future in which the abilities of machines far outstrip my own and remain resolved to realize a future that is not only technologically advanced, but also morally sound.Day 19: I am using my school uniform as a slate to tally the days.As my classmates draw the tally, together we tell the story of the hunger strike and mourn the distance human beings have created between each other.Day 20: My uniform has become a subject of question.Left with scant parental guidance, I wondered if they were right.I wondered if extremist groups really did represent the religion of my parents and grandparents, if their religion really was one of intolerance.While we still have a few more days until the official beginning of fall, around here it feels a lot like the season has already begun.Classes are back in session, the leaves are falling off the trees, and most of our counselors have departed for the two-month marathon of flights, high school visits, and college fairs that we call travel season.I am compelled to find a way to embody the struggle.In my first period class, I see a marker beside the whiteboard.