Don’t date an Arab girl

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Don’t date an Arab girl

She is harder to convince and more complex to understand

than the ones on the big screen that have convinced you of her delicate and timid nature

She is not oppressed, like those caricatures on the news

Her long, flowing hair has not grown dark and strong to guide your eyes to

Her curved figure, which exists not to twirl into shapes

so that she many enchant you to the beat of the Debke. The Arab girl is born

with a fire in her belly and has inherited the strength of her foremothers.

Don’t date an Arab girl for she carries the Middle East on her shoulders

Every war and every invasion pushes her to tears she fights back to replace

with a brave face for her brothers and sisters; starving, homeless and grieving.

Don’t date an Arab girl, she inspires revolutions with her passion and her protest

She will come home late because she stays amongst the dissenters until she can feel

the winds of change. Don’t fret, the Arab girl is protected from the cold

by the Kaffieh around her neck; she is the one sharing her last droplets of water

to quench the parched mouths, dried shouting for freedom in the midday sun.

Don’t date an Arab girl, she will fill your shelves and your mind with Qabbani, Said and Mahfouz.

The Euphrates, the Jordan and the Nile run through her veins.

The spirit of Cairo, Algiers and the West Bank satiate her heart.

Don’t date an Arab girl, you will too often hear her sigh in longing

for the sound of the Muezzin in the morning, the taste of ‘real’ olives,

the smell of freshly baked bread and  for the feel of the sun’s rays to beat

gently on the nape of her neck in the late afternoon.

Do date her because you believe in her struggle, when you can match her passion

and feel her pain. Date her because you can hold her as she wavers

under the load she carries when the strength of her mothers’ does not suffice

For a moment.

This poem was originally published by Thaqafa (ثقافة : culture) Magazine, a community that represents the other side of being Arab. The magazine aims to battle stereotypes and misconceptions with modern, regularly updated content. Read the original post here, or find out more on Facebook@thaqafamagazine

Artwork by Lalla Essaydi. Photograph by Jonathan Dresner, via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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