I want you to know something about my people. We were forced off our land. Half of our hearts will always be in Afghanistan. You need to know this. We are present, but our souls long for the dirt of Kabul. Because it was not our choice to leave.
But we are here. America offered us sanctuary, and we are here. For the first 20 years of this exodus, we were disconnected. Like nomads across the plains of Afghanistan, we were scattered all over America, in New York, in California, in Colorado, in Florida. The Taliban took over; we mourned from afar. The Buddhas of Bamiyan collapsed; we silently weeped into our pillows. 9/11 happened, and our motherland Afghanistan was sent spiraling back down into the depths of perpetual warfare once again; and we prostrated to the ground, asking God for mercy.
But I want you to know, that we’ve found each other now. We do not need to cry alone. Because we have established ourselves in this nation, individually and now in harmony. The Afghan American Conference is an army. Every soldier has sharpened their skill, and we are ready to take control of our destiny in this nation. We are ready to be better, we are ready to empower one another. We are sure of ourselves. This is the Afghan-American diaspora now.
Last weekend was the second annual Afghan-American Conference. This time, the issues were deeper. The dialogue was raw. More tears were shed and more laughs were shared. We tackled the ailments of our community – violence, drug abuse, mental health, discrimination. We stood in solidarity with the victims of these issues; we made sure they would never be rejected again. Because we are sick of the exclusion. We are sick of outsiders telling us what is wrong with us. We are sick of hurting one another. We are sick and tired, of mourning alone.
I was given the opportunity to connect with even more brothers and sisters in my diaspora. I love these people. I loved communicating with them, I loved listening to their opinions, I loved glimpsing into their minds. Every face was a friend. Every room was a safe space, where we could tackle what is hindering our community from growing. Every meeting was a movement, where we were inspired to mobilize our people.
We had even more seasoned professionals. From Tammana Roashan, Roh Habibi, Fahim Anwar, the organizers of the conference were able to bring the best of the best to speak with us, to teach us, to mentor us. Panels in every profession, discussions on every issue we’re concerned about.
This is history in the making. This is a network of extremely passionate and dedicated individuals who are working tirelessly to save our nation, here and in the homeland. A week and a half after the conference, and I am still on a high, still in a dreamy mental state where I am enamored by everyone I met, where my heart is full and my soul knows that we can do this. We are ready.
The clip below is of the Attan. The Attan is a 6,000 year old dance, performed at celebrations, but also during war. And that is the true essence of my people, a people who persevere in tragedy and triumph. No matter where we are on this planet, whether Kabul or California, we will carry this beat in our hearts. We are resilient. We are powerful. And no matter how far from the homeland, we will dance the Attan in unity, because it is the common heartbeat of our people. It is our war cry. It is our celebration tune, and our everlasting life-song. We will never be broken, and we are home.
“I am involved in the land of a leonine and brave people, where every foot on the ground is like a wall of steel, confronting my soldier. You brought only one Alexander into this world, but every mother in this land has brought an Alexander into this world.”
-Alexander the Great, on a campaign in modern-day Afghanistan