Senzela Atmar — Breaking Down Stigma-Stained Barriers
Senzela Atmar was born in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan. It's a miracle she and her family are still alive today. After surviving bombings, the death of a family member, and several years in a refugee camp, she and her family won a lottery and were brought to the United States. They began their lives in Nashville, TN. Senzela's story is going to blow your minds.
Senzela started Relief Without Borders—an organization committed to providing relief to those suffering injustice and poverty in developing countries.
She is also involved with Share the Journey.
In the intro of the podcast, I read an incredibly impactful poem that speaks candidly to the experience of so many refugees and immigrants. You can read it below.
NOTE: In this poem, Warsan—a Somali poet and educator— uses the n-word. I copy/pasted the poem in its entirety for you below but left the n-word out when I recited the poem in the intro. As a non-black person, I don't feel comfortable saying it—even if I'm simply reading what she wrote.
HOME by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child’s body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
Listen to her read this poem here.
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