Although my intentions are good in helping less fortunate outside of Sweden, my ancestors lay a dark “colonial” (Sweden wasn’t actually a colonial state although I have visited a slave fort in Ghana which was owned by Sweden for a couple of years) shadow upon the hand I reach out. Whatever I do, I will always be a privileged girl from west who has drawn advantage from others disadvantage, solely through history and the way society is organized today. Malcolm X says something like you don’t have the fault for the slavery, but you have the fault for drawing advantage from it, referring to how African americans still being discriminated although they supposedly have the same rights as white Americans. Although those are not his exact words, I applaude him for his input, we shall never forget where we come from nor forget where it has brought us today.
When I leave my comfort zone in Sweden with like-minded people all talking about how the ‘poor African kids don’t have food on their table’, I bear in mind who I am and where I come from. I don’t want to be a ghost of a colonial missionary, helping the “‘poor Africans’ who can’t help themselves”. Instead I want to show my support in their struggle and lend a hand if they reach for it. I believe in local competence as the first hand solution to the problems of this world. Outside competence should only be supportive and helpful when called upon.
As for the struggle that keeps most of my mind occupied, I dwell on how to help my Palestinian friends. I would more than anything want to stand by their side and demand dignity, but there is a problem – I am not on their side of the wall, I don’t know how it feels to not only visit but live there lives, I will never feel what they feel, and it’s not my dignity to demand.
But I can draw advantage of my position. I read an article about how international activists can be some kind of ‘human shields’ for the Palestinian in their demonstrations, because the Israeli military would never dare – of course there have been exceptions – hurting international activists. It is the sad truth that I am more likely to be protected by international law than Palestinians, but that will be my contribution as soon as I make it to Palestine/Israel to demonstrate in the name of peace and human rights alongside the real strugglers.
The bottom line is we all have something to contribute in the struggle for peace and human rights in the world, we may just have different roles.
Salam u aleikum! Free Palestine!