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Go Back To Your Country

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

If you don’t like it here, go back to your country.


I’ve heard these words cast through white bodies until I learned to shape shift for my survival. When I was serving an elderly couple, I recall saying “I like being Canadian, I’m here now," to which the old woman nodded kindly and said, “we like immigrants like you.”


I remember in my early 20s, the swelling of pride when people would say, “you’re not like other Lebanese people, you’re cool.” Every time the imperialistic energy of Canada reminded me that I was an unwelcome other, I broke my bones to fit into the smallness of white boxes.

Every time the imperialistic energy of Canada reminded me that I was an unwelcome other, I broke my bones to fit into the smallness of white boxes.

If you don’t like it here, go back to your country.


As I near 30, I have been on a deep reclamation of my Arab-identity. To put it differently, I have been on a deep reclamation to step into the gifts my parents and my ancestors gave me. I say to them in one of my poems, “you understood that inheritance is a gift, not something for the geneticists to unwind.” I remind myself of my hair and skin that “this black charred helmet is a crown from a queen” and “this golden skin is my favorite jacket that my father gave me.”


But these intentional efforts are just that – intentional. They don’t sit in my body in any organic way because I have been so deeply encultured by White Christian Canadians that I’m afraid if I pull this mask off, I’ll have no face beneath.


The enculturing continues even when I have an awareness of the imperialistic energies flowing through this land. It continues in a Toronto nightclub when a white man asks me “so where are you from?” to which I reply “Alberta” to which he replies, “but like, really where are you from?” to which I reply “really Alberta” to which he says “but you’re not really Canadian are you?” to which I say “please leave, I’m trying to have fun with my friend,” to which he says “No , I just mean you might have a Canadian citizenship but you’re not Canadian-Canadian," to which I know better as an angry, furious, raging, Arab man not to punch him in the face for that never ends well for me.


If you don’t like it here, go back to your country.


This apple has fallen so far from the tree, stumbled down the mountains of Lebanon, drifted across the Mediterranean and beyond, and became frosted white in the cold winters of Canada.


As I watch my land and my people fight unfathomable monsters, I keep feeling the continental drifts between us. I hear their frustrations with us in the diaspora; can I still say they are my people and my land when we've evolved oceans apart? I get to watch as my cousins and friends attend protests in masses against the unprincipled and amoral politicians; the politicians themselves are a legacy of French and British unprincipled and amoral imperialism. I watch as an impending famine encroaches the people as they become the fallout of a proxy war between the United States, China, Russia, and Iran. I watch. They feel.


And now I watch again as the Beirut Explosion tremors into the bones of the city; the ultimate catastrophe of negligence, indignation, and humiliation.

And now I watch again as the Beirut Explosion tremors into the bones of the city; the ultimate catastrophe of negligence, indignation, and humiliation.

If you don’t like here, go back to your country.


I don’t feel survivor’s guilt, no; I was swept by the currents of my parent’s forced immigration as a child which landed us in Canada.


What I feel is powerlessness and rage.


The connective tissue of all our stories are crystal clear. The same imperialistic energies that dispossessed my family 27 years ago also dispossessed thousands in Beirut this week, thousands of others in Syria several years ago, and countless more Palestinians over the past 70 years of Israeli tyranny. The very same imperialistic energies work on our spirits to severe us from ancestors, from community, and from our divine place in our world. The economy of this empire, capitalism, instructs us to follow our supreme individuality at any cost.

The connective tissue of all our stories are crystal clear.

The empire invites this continental drift and sells us stories which result in our dispossession and murder.


My lands are not lands’ of war. We manifest ancient and modern cities along a fertile crest. Civilizations, alphabets, science, and universities found their bearing through Arab, Persian, Assyrian, Jewish, and the countless other ethnoreligious groups of our geography. We birthed divine philosophers; least of all the Palestinian Jew named Jesus of Nazareth. White Christians have forgotten these truths and histories.

The fertility of our lands has been turned barren by Canadian, American, Australian, and European White Supremacy, who have come in with a scalpel and scraped the womb clean in search of oil and God.


If you don’t like it here, go back to your country.


What country?


We have always wished we could. But after you’ve taken our words, our language, our body, our labour, our love, our family, our people – what country is left to go back to?

But after you’ve taken our words, our language, our body, our labour, our love, our family, our people – what country is left to go back to?

How dare you say such a senseless phrase.



Please donate to the Lebanese Red Cross to support relief efforts


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