We as a Somali community need to stop shunning one another…
I’ve noticed that in the Somali community we and amongst a lot of other cultures and communities when someone does anything that is opposing to the values, beliefs, expectations, and ways that are embedded in our culture we are so quick to shun them out. I also noticed that its always towards our female’s members and never towards our males. And although I can write a whole book on double standards that is present in the Somali community, this blog post won’t be about that. For this post, I’ll simply be talking about the shunning that happens in our community and the reason why we must debunk this ideology that if one goes against the communities’ laws and principles they must be punished by being shunned.
Before I get into anything, I’m going to quickly clarify a term that is going to be very much so present in this post, and that is the word “Shunned”, how one can even be shunned and the result of this. A mere definition is Shunned persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something). And the process of Shunning someone is losing communication/touch with someone and no longer associating with them based on XYZ reason. When a person is shunned, it is because they have done something to displease someone or a group, or are perceived as distinctly “different” from the group and are therefore an “unknown” force. Shunning is thus a feature of a broader spectrum of aggressive behaviors, including accusation, sabotage, investigation and other efforts to control or remove the person from the group or community. To shun a person consequently isolates them at the very point when they most need support. It further erodes their self-esteem and their ability to withstand attack. Moreover, when a person is targeted for elimination, once they are shunned it becomes very difficult to defend their position as former supporters (friends and family) disappear, and even more difficult for them to find new ones. Now that I’ve briefly explained what that means, process and the result of shunning someone. I want to get into how this is very much so a recurrent in our community. I’m pretty sure many of us can recall a time or situation where either you or someone you know has done that to another or seen it being done.
I can recall countless situations and events in our community where someone, and again it’s usually the female members, would do XYZ that contradicts the beliefs of our culture, and for that reasoning, we will literally shun/cut off/ and ostracize her. No one will speak to her anymore; no one wants to be associated with her because they are in fear of their own representation being at stake, families are embarrassed and no longer want anything to do with her, everywhere she goes it’s as people’s hawking stares remind her of what she has done just in case if she has. And that is so sad. This results in her feeling like she has no place of belonging, feeling like an outcast, and extremely vulnerable. This then can yield to the governing of things like depression, anxiety, especially social anxiety, and many other mental illnesses as a result of her being shunned. Instead of her own community taking her in, trying to help guide and advise her to make sure that she understands her wronging and help her towards her grow from it, we as a community shut her out and alienate her from her own community leaving her miserable, alone and worthless.
Not only is she being shoved and alienated out of the community all communications and personal relationships that she has (well not all) are lost with it. Her own friends that were supposed to be there to provide support for her in a time where she needs it the most are in fear of their own shunning if they are caught still associating with her after the community has shunned her. Her friends are set to believe that because she did XYZ that people will also think she must to do that. So for the sake of her reputation and out of fear she must slowly or instantly cut all ties with her. Leaving the girl with absolutely no one to talk to or confide in. No one to just talk about the situation with or have a shoulder to lean on. Again, an outcast in her own community.
The Families of the girl are embarrassed to claim her as their daughter, sister, niece or granddaughter after what she has done. They as a family feel humiliated because of the actions of what she has done and are also in fear too for their own reputation. Other families in the community are looking at them side eyed saying “You should have raised her better,” “I can’t believe she did that,” “My daughter would never do that.” Blah blah blah. Causing the Families of the girl to lash out even more out of frustration because they don’t know what to tell their friends, so they take it out on her and yell things like, “No guy will ever marry you, you whore! You’re a disgrace to our family! Have we not taught you anything!” There goes her relationship with her family. Probably the most importance relationship one can have is one with their family. Because family is said to be the only ones that are going to be there for you when you feel like no one else is, there to love you unconditionally, and stand by you no matter what during times where you feel like everything, and everyone is caving in on you. Guess not.
Rumors continue to spread like fire and, lies start getting attached to the already horrible situation by malicious guys and other females. We all know how rumors go, it’s kind of like broken telephone, it gets passed down to the other person, and that other person passes it down to another. And somewhere down the line, it gets twisted up; people add things to make it more “juicier” and more and more people start to find out. It’s bad enough that her friends, family and her local community know, but now the entire community knows about it too. Which enables more people bashing, more people staring, more people taunting and teasing leaving her feeling like she does not want to leave her room that is her solitude out of fear of those taunting stares. Alone in her own solitude…
And no matter how hard or how much she repents no one cares lol… everyone is always going to associate her with that one stupid mistake she’s done. “Oh, Aisha? The one that did XYZ?”. She can repent to Allah, ask for forgiveness, and try to work on herself to better herself but again no one cares. Cause your still Aisha, and that mistake you did will never leave your name no matter how hard you try…
I cannot even imagine what it’s like to be in that position. No matter how remorseful you feel, how much you repented, sought to better yourself as a person… it all doesn’t matter because no one cares. Your just Aisha that did XYZ lol and for all, we know you still probably do that.
I’m not condoning or trying to make whatever she did right, but I will never turn a blind eye to the treatment and aftermath of what’s to happen to her. Why? Because at the end of the day she’s human, just like me. And the thing about us humans is that we are built to make mistakes, mess up, and have regrets. But as humans, we also have the ability to right our wrongs and better ourselves. So why should we as people judge another person for their mistakes and mishaps when we too have moments in our life where we’ve done something we probably shouldn’t have?
This is life; we will all have a journey, we will all have trials and tribulations, we will all have moments in our lives where we mess up. Imagine how boring and dull life would be without them. Because that OUR life journey. No one else’s. We all have a journey that is set out for us. Sometimes some of us come across more crossroads and stumbles than others on our journey, but that just makes the person even stronger knowing everything they’ve been through to get to where they were always destined to be. So why judge someone for those crossroads and stumbles? That person shouldn’t be in fear that other people, people in their own community judging you for your mistakes, shunning you and ostracizing you. No one and I mean no one should feel like they are being rejected, neglected, and mistreated. For one second… imagine putting yourself in that other person’s shoes and seeing how they feel. You’ve made a mistake, you feel bad, you acknowledge your wrongs, you’ve learned from it, you repent, and everyone seems to disregard all of that and continue to alienate you. Feeling like no matter what you do or where you go everyone is judging you. “Oh look its Aisha, wasn’t she the girl that did XYZ.”
Again, girls don’t want to be your friend because again, they’re afraid for their own reputations. Guys don’t want to talk to you because they feel like your already “used and abused” and if he does want to talk to you, he won’t because he’s too afraid what his friends might say, “Lol you’re talking to Aisha… that *insert horrifying comment*” Other parents of these children don’t want you hanging out with their daughters or son because of their afraid that you might have a negative “influences” on them. Imagine if you were in that situation. How miserable you would feel. So why contribute to a situation that’s already bad by adding on to the rumors, isolating her off, not wanting to associate yourself with her, alienating her, making her feel bad about herself. When you as her brother and sister should welcome her with open arms and be there for her at a time that is so evidently hard.
I feel like this whole ideology that we have to cut ties and ostracize someone on the basis of them going against something that contradicts our beliefs and principles should be debunked and no longer happen in our community. Because it’s a sad situation to be in and to watch. It’s unfortunate that there are so many women out there experiencing this as I’m writing this crying herself to sleep because she feels like an outcast and feels even more remorseful and wishes she could just go back in time because the pain is just unbearable. Things like this should be happening… they just should not be, and it won’t happen. If we as a community could just open our arms a little wider and just be kinder to one another things like this wouldn’t happen. So now, I ask you what can we as members of the community do to make sure that we are there for our sisters that are going through this and what can we do to show that they are still loved and supported.
So, Ladies, I’ll start off with you guys. If you see this happening to someone you know, a friend, your own family members or whatever, please don’t make an already bad situation worse by disassociating yourself with her. I understand that you’re in fear of your reputation because we all know once your reps gone there really is no way of getting it back. But me personally, I’d rather know that I’m a good person that stands up for what I believe is wrong/right than someone who just stands on the sidelines and watches something happens without speaking up. Because you not speaking up is you agreeing and condoning with what is going on with your silence! And if me speaking up means “ruining” my reputation than so be it. Because times like this all someone needs and wants is someone who they can just talk to and just confide in you know? So ladies, please, be that someone for someone. And if someone is going to associate you with whatever negative terms let them! Because you know yourself, you know the type of person you are, and you don’t need people’s validation! So please, be that person that others can come to no matter what, judgment free and ready to listen. In situations like this where you are being shunned and are basically suppose to feel like you’re alone, it’s important to at least have a few people, you can still count on to make the situation maybe just a little bit better. Heck, even if it’s just one person, that one person can mean everything and change the girl’s outlook on the whole situation. Why should we do this? Because we are sisters, we need to stick together! Wallahi I see every single one of you girls reading this as sister regardless if I know you personally or not and as a sister I will always be there for you unconditionally.
Now for the guys, oh man especially you guys. Where do I even start with you guys? Most of the slander and malicious acts/behaviors comes from you lot. Firstly, I’ll start off by saying what goes around comes around. The way you treat others is the way other treat you, and if that doesn’t happen, believe me, God will somehow have his works. And you can believe that! When your bashing a girl, dehumanizing, and completely destroying the girl’s reputation to your friends and family just know that that is someone’s sister you’re talking about. That’s someone’s daughter you’re talking about! Have you no heart? Imagine if that was your sister or daughter. Would you want other men to be violating her and bashing her like that? No. So why do it? She’s more than those names and labels you want to place on her. And although she did whatever XYZ mistake that still will never give you the right to talk about her and bash her. Its funny because the same guys that want to put her and people down in general for doing something wrong are the same ones that are doing things that are even worse than what she’s done. You’re not a saint yourself. So again, please if you have nothing nice to say please do not say it. Nothing is more disgusting to me than a man that bashes women. It says a lot about the type of man you are. And no one and I mean no one likes a man that bashes, insults and degrades women! Be the type of man that stands up for what is wrong and what is right, not a coward that sits back and says nothing while he listens to his friend’s bash and slander and joining in on the parade. Because I know some of you guys have a heart and you know what your doing is wrong, so please for the sake of Allah just stop. You spreading the rumors, or “exposing,” or bashing, or whatever is just contributing to the already huge problem our community is facing.
I’m just so over hearing stories and situations like this and seeing things like this happen in our community and seeing that no one is speaking up about this. Because it’s an issue! We are a community, and as a community, we need to support one another, respect one another, care and love one another not bash and alienate one another. We need to stop with this whole idea of shunning those who go against what we believe is wrong. Yes, what she may have done is wrong, but I personally think the treatment she gets afterward is even worse. Because denying this person the right to a social group and social relationships is dehumanizing. We are social creatures; we need social interactions for our own survival. When we deny her this right, we are basically pushing her into her own solitude and into her alienated planet where she can’t go anywhere and talk to nobody because we have taken away from the right of her having that by us as a community shunning her and cutting her off to fend for herself. Like I mentioned earlier this leads to some severe mental illnesses. I don’t even know what to say to further explain that this isn’t right! We as a community just need to do better man…
If you are a sister and you’re currently going through something like this, please know that if you ever need someone to talk to you can always always always count on me no matter what. Whether you live 10 miles away or across the friggin world, I will always be here for your judgment free and ready to listen to you. Love you all, always.