A South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage Support Group

Our South, Central, and West Asian-heritage support group in Los Angeles, California, USA, continues to go well. Four or five of us meet monthly.

For several months we worked on pride in our national (Canadian and USer) identities. It was hard to distinguish between pride in the human aspects of our national cultures and pride in the policies of our national states. There was some resistance to what felt like a direction to take pride in the oppressor role of our nations. Eventually I looked up the word “nation” in a dictionary and found that it basically meant a people, with a territory and government. This seemed a more workable place from which to discharge on pride in our Canadian and U.S. peoples, the history of our resistance to oppression, and the beauty of the land.

During the last few months, we worked on appreciating human aspects of South, Central, and West Asian national identities that are not our own, though we may feel a connection with them. (For example, a Muslim may feel a connection with Mecca and Saudi Arabia but not have a Saudi identity, or a Christian may feel a connection with Jerusalem and Israel/Palestine but not have an Israeli or Palestinian identity.) This was how we began working on the harder aspects of our internalized oppression as a large and varied constituency.

Just as with the work on U.S. and Canadian identities, the oppressor roles and histories came to mind and made this challenging for several of us. We struggled with distresses and stereotypes and sometimes had to discharge on those first. But then we came back to the direction of appreciation, even if it meant simply saying that the people of a particular country were human beings. (Often our lack of knowledge showed.) Given that our support group is a mixed group, with some of us feeling connection where others might have distress, we gave each other permission to start the work the best we could, even if it wasn’t done perfectly. We learned from the process and continue to have flashes of insight into what we appreciate.

At our most recent meeting, I read from the chapter “Jewish-Arab Unity” in Harvey Jackins’s book The Benign Reality. It’s the transcript of a talk Harvey gave at a gathering of Palestinians and Israeli Jews in Israel. We read it a page at a time, alternating with mini-sessions. It is excellent and thought provoking and was helpful to us. I recommend it.

A final thought has to do with skin color. Many of us South, Central, and West Asian-heritage people who have light skin did not inherit it (or all of it) from European ancestors. It may have been passed on to us from our light-skinned Asian ancestors. I have learned that ancient Central Asian populations had a great diversity of physical characteristics and that as they spread out to the rest of Eurasia, different characteristics dominated in different places.

We are in the early stages of finding our way toward clarity, liberation, and how to apply RC to this work.

Amin Khoury

Los Angeles, California, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of South, Central, and West Asian-heritage people

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00