The global refugee migration is at a record high. I wrote this poem in response to the global refugee politics that is often harsh and dehumanizing. I was a child when my family and I fled the civil war in Somalia. No one should ever have to go through what a refugee experiences. I just wanted to write a poem listing all the blessings and the lessons refugees teach us. I wanted to capture the resilient spirit of refugees around the world, while being honest about our current harsh politics toward refugees.
"I am a refugee.
A global citizen,
aching for two continents,
two countries, two histories two nations,
Yet abandoned by all.
I am a refugee and I shelter humanity.
I walked, and ran and screamed miles on end to find peace
before I would pronounce my own name.
I come with too many invisible treasures
Feared by all, banned by politics
Never belonging and always longing.
I am a refugee, and I anchor humanity
A childhood full of humanity's lowest moments,
I carry tiny soulless traumas,
Timely will only harden my flesh.
My survival is a testimony to humanity's depth and compassion.
My traumas will teach the greatest
lessons on humanity
I am a refugee and I uplift Humanity.
I am a refugee
Globally homeless, yet
My language is an international bridge,
My culture is a blanket from the elements of bigotry
My religion is a pillow for my compassion.
My history is a lullaby for tales not to be repeated.
My humanity is in the hands of a child sitting in a refugee camp
Still waiting for chance to find a safe home.
I am refugee, and I challenge Humanity
I am a refugee,
A wondering, colorful, restless, foreign alien, soul
That you are taught to fear, ban and bully.
Yet I bring you a slice of the world of my old home right here in your backyard.
I bring you food so intricately spiced, it revolutionize your palate,
My vibrant colors hand-woven with diligent ancient wisdom has diversified your closed-minded color-wheels.
I bring you my childs, my precious only childs, to share a history, a future with you,
You and I are too stuck together to be this far apart.
I am a refugee and I bind humanity
I am a refugee
A stubborn survivor
You see, cruelty tried to break me,
Wars tried to erase me
Bigotry tries to silence me
and politics tried to ban me
But, Still like time, I stand
Still like dust I raise"
Still like hope, I move
Still like love, I flourish
I am a refugee and I heal humanity.
I am Refugee,
A wondering, colorful, restless, foreign, alien soul.
Won’t you, just
let me find my humanity right here next to you?"
Artist Social Media
Contributing Editor: Ifrah Mansour
Ifrah Mansour is a multimedia artist and teacher living in Minneapolis. Much of her work centers around the Somali refugee experience. She recently read her poem “I Am a Refugee” at Twin Cities World Refugee Day, where these portraits were taken.