Growing up, my cousins and I always joked about how our parents always talked about politics. We never understood it, we just knew that they would become emotionally invested in the discussions, and they would take sides based upon their beliefs, and certain people that subscribed to similar beliefs always sided together. Whether the political conversation surrounded Ethiopian Politics or American Politics it didn’t matter, the debate was always a heated one. Passions would rise, and their core beliefs would be revealed. At the end of the day everyone laughed and hugged and we were still a family.
As I have grown and matured I have learned something: I share many of the same passions as my family. I have found myself becoming increasingly interested in politics. I have taken sides in many discussions, and as I have reached adulthood, I have realized that I am more and more drawn to the discussions that they have. Where I once rushed quickly away from the conversations or “debates” they carry on, I now sometimes find myself slipping into the circle listening, sometimes expressing my opinion where I can, but quickly shying away from engaging in any serious polarized discussion.
Often times their discussion surrounds Ethiopian Politics. Well although I am an Ethiopian American, I have not found myself taking any particular “side” when it comes to Ethiopian Politics. Why not? Well why should I? I know this sounds a bit ridiculous because what kind of Ethiopian does not voice their opinion about the political happenings in Ethiopia. The Regime of Meles Zenawi, the horrifying history of the Red Terror with Mengestu Halemariam, the Reign of the Emperor Haile Selasse, and the Historical Rise of the “Tikur Sew” Menelik rising against the Italians in the battle of Adwa.
Please do not get me wrong. I am certainly interested in politics. But my interest lies in where I can actually affect change. My interest in politics lies actively within the domestic issues of American Society, Where I live, where my children will likely live, and where my children’s children will also likely live. The reality is Ethiopia, my mother’s home, my father’s home, where my roots lie, the cradle of ALL HUMANITY, is actually not currently my home. A vast majority of my immediate family is actually here in the United States, (with only 1 first cousin left in Ethiopia). So I may ask you, why should I care? Well I do care, I care greatly about what happens to the Ethiopian People , to my Ethiopian Brothers and Sisters, BUT does raising my voice, shouting at the rooftops, really make a change in Ethiopia? In my personal opinion, it does not. What I can do is help my Ethiopian Brothers and Sisters domestically. Thousands of Ethiopians live in the DC area, and are taken advantage of in Employment, can’t find decent housing, don’t know where to send their children for school. As we look across the world to our homeland, we forget about our brothers and sisters right here. Did you know there are homeless Ethiopians right here in the United States. Did you know that there are Ethiopians that are being disenfranchised in education and employment right here, in the land where they came to be free, they suffer from even greater oppression.
So, I apologize for not being too concerned with what is happening thousands of miles away. I’ll stay right here and fight for my brothers and sisters in the United States. Rather than debate constantly about political issues that none of us will really impact or are even willing to stick our necks out and tackle. I believe that we should definitely do something that can actually impact our Community. I say we should give and support organizations that do actually HELP people. I say we reach out, stand up and help those Ethiopians here, that may not have had as great of an opportunity as many in my family for example have had. We should mentor the young, support the old, and teach the new Ethiopian immigrants. Rather than debate the political wows of a third world country, let us do something that makes an actual difference. It is then that I truly believe that we will see overall change within the Ethiopian Community.