What it's about
Azeem Bhatti and his wife Saima struggle to straddle the gap between their Pakistani heritage and their British upbringing.
This show told me three things:
1) They saw me.
2) They understood me.
3) They’ve felt what I’ve felt.
For that, I’m eternally grateful.
My whole life, I’ve been made to feel like my people could only be seen in a negative light. When I turned on the t.v., all I saw was us being “radical extremists” or “terrorists.” I never imagined any other way. I never imagined being seen or understood or accepted, because we weren’t. We aren’t.
That’s why this show was so revolutionary for me. Because it said no. No to only being seen negatively. No to being silenced. No to accepting anything less than we deserve, and this show is only the beginning.
I’ve never related to a character as much as I related to Akeem. We saw the same traumas. We felt the same pain. It was freakishly accurate if you ask me.
Here are a few of his bone-chilling lines that I was able to catch:
“In America, a good Muslim is an invisible Muslim.”
We’re judged by the color of our skin and our religion. We’re constantly seen as something to be feared, so this line is all too familiar to me. It’s how I’ve been made to feel and how I felt growing up. How I still feel. A feeling I can’t shake. I have to continually explain myself and be more, just to convey that the extremists don’t represent my people. That they don’t represent what I believe in. That they don’t represent me.
“I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be respected.”
Being cast in that negative light, it’s hard not to feel less than human. To feel like you’re jumping through so many hoops and going through tons of red tape just to get somewhere that others seamlessly walk through. I’ve felt that anger. We’re all on the same playing field. We’re all human, so why does it feel like there’s always someone with the upper hand? Why do I always feel like I’m being held back?
“This is all I have.” / “Either I’m too Muslim or not Muslim enough.” / “Who am I?”
Akeem goes on to talk about how he grew up in Great Britain. How it’s all he knows and all he’ll ever know. His desperation for belonging and his pain of feeling lost is something I know all too well. Growing up mixed, I was never "Asian" enough for the Asians or "Arab" enough for the Arabs. I was never "American" enough for Americans. To them, I was too Muslim. To Arabs, I wasn’t Muslim enough, so where did that leave me? Where did I belong? Who am I exactly?
If I’m being completely honest, I still don’t know.
I walked away wishing I saw more people of color in the media. Maybe we wouldn’t feel so lost or alone. We wouldn’t feel like we had to lose a part of ourselves to be seen or heard. We’d be accepted because, at the end of the day : we’re all human and that’s all that matters.
Tell us about your experience.
In the comments below.