place your heart back in your chest 

You are there and 

I am here but

My heart rips into pieces

I run into the street
With my heart in my hands 

With tears streaming down 

My face 

I tell them 

Look what is happening
Look at the children

Look at the terror but 

No one stops or
Turns a cheek

They just glance at me like 

Foolish girl don’t you know
Your people

Here and there 

Are used to this and

They don’t love our children like we do and 

Don’t they want to be martyrs? And 

What value do they have for life anyways so foolish girl

Don’t be so dramatic 
Place your heart back in your chest

You are so lucky to be here 

Count your blessings because if you don’t like it here then you can leave 

And go cry and die with your precious people in your broken motherland 
Foolish girl 

Afghan lives are not lives they are just 

Reminders of how superior we are.

We are chosen.

& they are unfortunate.
This is how the world works. 

Place your heart back in your chest. 

This is how the world works.

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selective compassion 

Why do your 

Eyes look so tired 

Like you lived

One million lifetimes 

Like you loved

And lost everything 

Like you hoped

And the world collapsed on you 

Why do your eyes look like stone

Like what they saw 

Was pure evil

Hate reincarnate 


How can we breathe life

Back into you 

We cannot 

So we say 

This is what your culture is used to

A grave your people dug themselves

We make you so small

That when we see your dull eyes 

We say you do not know any better

It was supposed to be this way. 

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Phoenix Woman 

Every time you call her stupid

A whore

You tell her she’s nothing

And that she is weak

Every time you remind her 

She is nothing without you

And that you gave her everything
You are fueling the fire

You are digging your own grave

You are planting seeds

You are the dirt she will push through
To become the most brilliant

The most powerful

The unstoppable

The unbreakable
Resilient Queen Mother
Phoenix from the Ashes
Something you couldn’t imagine

A story never told before
A creature so majestic

They don’t even have a name for it
Keep tormenting this caterpillar

You are helping her build her cocoon 

And watch how quickly she will crush you

After she rises to full bloom


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for my sisters who suffer

The ones who

Smiled and were given nothing in return

Who wore perfume

And were walked through like air

The ones who

Tried so hard but got so little

I wish I could

Give you the stars in the sky

I wish I could wipe the mascara from your eyes

I know how it is

To make them want to stay

I know how it is

To extend your heart

To the depths of their rejection

Do not make a home in these hearts

My sisters

If you are suffering

Please come to me

I will make you a cup of tea

We will sit on my rug

We can cry if you want

Or we can sing through the night

We will do anything and everything but

Allow you to be walked all over


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year one at USC

today was my last day on the USC campus until fall semester. what a whirlwind for my first year.

former MSW’s told me that the first year would be challenging. so much of being a good mental health provider is working through your own traumas. in the words of my favorite professor: “you gotta own your own shit before you can help someone else”

oh man was she right. the intersectionality of being a woman, an afghan, a muslim, the child of refugees, a survivor of trauma, depression & anxiety. i pathologized the sh*t out of myself and learned to name the feelings and experiences that i’d been suffocating because of social stigmas. and my alopecia came back this month with a vengeance – as a reminder that being mindful is the only healthy way to cope with stress.

but as social workers we always strive towards a strengths-based approach. towards promoting resilience. towards empowering ourselves so that we can empower our clients.

the afghan-american conference could not have come at a better time. this weekend i’ve been given the opportunity to yet again engage my community. to pose challenging questions that force us to examine ourselves as diaspora children. i’ll be seeing all of the AAC attendees in Washington, DC. please attend the roundtable discussion on afghan-american identity! i am looking forward to seeing you there. & also can we collectively egg the White House? k cool thanks. (JK … i think)

to my professors, colleagues, roommates, family & friends: thank you so much for your support this year. i know i could not have done it without you. to my little clients who have no way of reading this because they’re elementary school kids, (lol) i learned so much from you. these children were some of the most resilient, optimistic, kind little souls i’ve ever met. i am so sad to terminate my time with you but am confident in your success.

cheers to being 365 days closer to my social work degree <3

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recognize the Armenian Genocide 

The marches

In the desert

Their feet blistered and bloody

Our refugees

We see them

In videos and we see them in pictures

We know they are running away

From the mouth of a snake

But what if there were no videos

What if only quiet stories told us

Stories that have been silenced

By dictators

By nationalists

By corrupt politicians

What if we only heard our grandmother in the living room

Mourning her family

What if we had to fight

To get records of her existence

Then our wounds would still be open

Even a century later

If you mourn for the refugee

Read about the Armenians

And learn about a people who still find

The bones of their loved ones

Underneath sand in Der Zor


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it is that easy 

And just like that

You could

Walk into my home

Make yourself a plate

Run your fingers through my hair

Kiss the bruises you left me with

And I would make you a spot in my bed

I would place two pillows instead of one

I would sleep on the side I hate because

You like the other

Just like that

I’d inconvenience myself

I’d open up my ribcage

I’d tell you

My heart is still your home. The one you forget. The one you neglect. It’s all yours.

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Meeting my WCW: Shadia Mansour


British Palestinian MC Shadia Mansour exercises non-violent protest against Israeli occupation through her music. Shadia’s lyrics are raw and powerful, not only challenging Israel, but calling for Hamas and Fatah to stop fighting amongst each other. Born to Christian parents, Mansour travelled to Palestine as a child, and has taken on a “musical intifada” against the occupation, conservatism, and the oppression of women. She has collaborated with Juice Rosado of Public Enemy, M-1, Lowkey, and has been featured in Rolling Stones. She has refused to perform to gender-separated audiences.

AF3IRM gave SWANA-LA the opportunity to meet Shadia to discuss social justice issues this week. It was an amazing experience and SWANA-LA is looking forward to more collaboration!

Here’s one of my faves from Shadia:

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this art installation by Jenny Holzer changed my life. it is in our deepest dreams that we find new ways to cope, new strategies to remain resilient. so much of being human is having to adapt, to deal with change. as a Cancer I have an extremely difficult time with change – changing seasons, lifestyles, semesters, jobs, friends…. to many people change is exciting but for me it’s always been overwhelming. it triggers my anxiety and throws me off completely. but recognizing that and working through it is my goal for this year. 

keep dreaming, keep surviving. the strongest people are those that fight, even when the world around them is crashing.


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there will be times 

there will be times in your life

that someone will enter

someone who was once a stranger 

make you forget how to breathe

forget how to dream 

without their dreams intertwining into yours 

forget how to breathe without their scent on your nose 

forget how you rose up

without their hand lifting you

there will be times

you will feel nothing

because they taught you how to open

the corners of your heart and they filled them

when you remember 

just try to forget 

because they won’t be there to teach you

how to heal from their absence. 


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