Monday, May 22, 2006

Nouri Lumendifi -- Fresh, bright voice of the future

Another fine outpouring from an articulate young man. Big heart, big intellect and big mouth. And I don't say that with any hint of malice. Young people don't put up with dishonesty, and this episode illustrates the point. In the end all battles are won or lost when facts are allowed to be known.

Last summer I attended a youth conference on diplomacy that took me to three Western European countries with a host of American youths from all over the United States. The contingent was overwhelmingly white, though there were four or five Arabs (all from Virginia, or New Jersey, with the exception being myself from Connecticut), a Persian (from LA), and perhaps two or three American blacks, each from different states.

At this conference we participated in a United Nations simulation. The couple of hundred odd mass of youths was divided into the various organs and committees of the UN. I was given China's seat on the UN Security Council, which was tasked with dealing with the genocide in Darfur. Before each meeting we were given briefings on debate procedure and resolution writing, as well as the background of the issue we were covering and our countries' backgrounds.

Nouri was assigned to role-play the Chinese delegate and the debate began. Unfortunately (or fortunately for this discussion) the moot debate got out of hand when a black girl from Missouri allowed her identity as an African-American to overcome her assigned role in the exercise. She attacked our hero for his vote, not because of his assigned role as delegate from China, but because he was not "black."

"You're not African," I said. The other kids went silent. "I'm more African than you. I think in Berber. I speak it. I have family living in Africa, and that fought for liberation from colonialism. I have citizenship in the African Union. What do you think you're doing telling me I'm a slave trader?"

"You're not African," she said again. "You're Arab."

"Sure, I'm Arab. And you're English. Being conquered by an Arab doesn't make you Arab."

She had no idea what I meant. I was just a swarthy Arab of uncertain origins to her.

"I'm African because I'm black," she blabbered. "You're not because you aren't black. It's simple, your people didn't come from Africa."

"My people sure as hell did come from Africa. Where do you get off being African because you're black? Is George Bush European because he's white? No, he's American, like I'm African and you're American."

She was mad. "You're only African because you people killed all the black people," this makes sense, huh?

"No, I'm African because my passport is Algerian, my family is from Africa and Berbers are African, not Arab," I told her.

"That's not African. That's white."


Enough of snips. Go read the entire scene for yourself. And remember that you are reading the words of a teen! As you read the start of the post you might forget. But when you get to the dialogue, you will know. For me, this kid is a breath of fresh air. He and his peers will save the country with a clear thinking and a spirit of principled truth-telling that will not be silenced.

1 comment:

KNL said...

THanks for the post!

Nouri