Raising Mothers published a piece I wrote exploring my choices about speaking Arabic in a racially charged society. I wrote this piece because it crunches my heart. It’s publication came in time with an Islamophobic attack on a friend of mine right here in my town which is to say, it may seem like things have calmed down when it comes to open-faced aggression against Muslims and Arabs. It hasn’t. It has just slid under the cover of normalcy.
I hope you’ll head over and read the rest of my story. Maybe even leave a comment. Just follow the link at the bottom of this passage:
There was a leave-taking when it comes to language. We were at the library and my firstborn sat roly-poly in the children’s area making smalltalk with me. Arabic is tricky. I do not speak it at any level approaching fluency, but I know household words and sounds. I vowed over my pregnant belly that I would not do to my child what my father did to me. My memories from the small town of Silo, Oklahoma sing to me in a tingling cadence I can almost grasp. They speak to me in smells and laughter that pulses at a different rhythm. Arabic was my first language. But, when I was four, my father cast our native tongue aside for English only. That aural world was promptly lost to me except in dreams. When he tried to correct his mistake, it was too late. I wasn’t willing to learn a language even my father gave up on.