Rohingya villages on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, within the borders of Vickery Meadow, 2018. © Carol Zou Rohingya villages on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, within the borders of Vickery Meadow, 2018. © Carol Zou

“Forgive my tone, but a few days ago, I received a shock that I could not accept. I thought I was in America, the home of equality and justice. I visited the home of a Rohingya refugee, and I found myself as if on another planet. They were resettled in a place that is not worth living. Why? Because they are dark-skinned? Maybe, but I don’t think this is enough reason. Because they are refugees? Perhaps, but this is also not enough reason. Because they are Muslim? Perhaps this also. Many reasons determine our unequal circumstances and our unequal rights, including the simplest right: ‘The right to live in dignity and in a home worthy of living.’‬‬

‪From my view of reality’s daily transactions, if you are not an American citizen, your rights are last in line. The refugees I visited do not yet have a US passport. They have no right to claim anything, not what a decent life requires. An American nationality has become the standard of humanity.‬‬‬

‪As we have heard in the slogans of human rights: America must be first!”‬‬‬

‪—written by Afrah Alakhali and translated by Carol Zou‬‬‬.

Carol Zou in collaboration with Afrah Alakhali

Carol Zou is a cultural worker, friend, and admirer of Afrah Alakhali. Afrah Alakhali is a journalist and former head of Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights Youth Unit. From 2015-2017, they co-produced Trans.lation Radio, a bilingual Arabic-English radio station chronicling the black, Latinx, and refugee community of Vickery Meadow.‬‬‬ thisliferecorded.com ‬‬‬