The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen


Translator: Rhonda Jacobs
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Whenever I travel, I carry a little metal box
of Altoids mints because after a four-hour,
7 AM flight, everyone has bad breath, so almost anyone
is willing to take the mint from the Muslim on the airplane. (Laughter) And I know I’ve been successful
when my neighbor turns and asks, “So, what’s your name?” You see, even if there was
an elephant in the room, I’m still the elephant in the room. (Cheer) Yeah! When an elephant
offers you mints on an airplane, I’m fully aware that
it’s not always easy to accept, so when the courageously curious
do pop the what’s-your-name question, I try to make it worth their while. (Laughter) My name is Amal. It means ‘hope’ in Arabic. Most days my name is waitress
at my family’s Damascus restaurant, full-time university student
and then some, pre-law, world traveler, 11 countries. My name is I’ve performed poetry
in eight of those countries. (Cheers) (Applause) International spoken word poet,
unapologetic Muslim woman. Syrian, American, hijabi,
activist, social justice advocate. My name is writer, teacher,
Colorado-born Mile High baby! (Laughter) (Applause) But at the airport,
my name is random search. (Laughter) And on the street, it’s terrorist, sand nigger, raghead, oppressed, and on the news, it’s ISIS, jihadi, suspect, radical. My name is, “Could your Muslim
neighbor be an extremist?” My mama, who wears the hijab,
the Islamic headdress, is often referred to as
“Go back to you country,” but she’s from Iowa! (Laughter) And her nickname is Lisa Pizza. (Laughter) And it does not take more
than a couple questions to figure out that her country
is the Council Bluffs cornfields. (Laughter) But, how would someone
know this without asking? They say the shortest distance
between two people is a story. Well, I elaborate on that to say
that the greatest distance you can travel in the shortest amount of time,
is by asking someone their name. The way we name ourselves
is a reflection of who we are, our declarations, family histories,
the things we believe, the morals we abide by,
our homes, cultures, transformations. Like a Mohammed turned Mo,
or a Lisa Pizza turned Iman. And how we name others, and how,
if, we allow others to name themselves is a reflection of our own declarations, of our courage, and our fear. The malleability of a person’s story
must be self-determined, coming from the lips of the storyteller, not the anchorman, not the megaphone, not even the scarf on her head
or the melanin in his skin, because no one can speak
the names of billions in one breath, unless it’s in prayer, and oftentimes when we generalize,
it isn’t because we’re praying. And when we don’t ask someone their name,
we’re not asking for their story. In the world of mass media
and rampant misinformation, it is hard for anyone, including myself, to deconstruct all these
terrifying stories that we hear. Sometimes, instead of isolating them,
individualizing them, we tend to paint a group of people
with a broad brush, until suddenly, everyone with a hijab on
is a raghead that needs liberating, or everyone with white skin
is a racist cracker, or everyone with black skin
is a fatherless nigger, or everybody who looks like my father
is going to blow up the airplane, or if the killer had a light complexion,
he’s just a mentally fragile lone wolf. And we come to this point where we feel like we don’t even need
to ask people their names because we already gave it to them. In Europe right now,
a monumental name change is taking place that has completely transformed
a humanitarian responsibility. Countries are deporting refugees, but when you watch news coverage, these refugees
are being referred to as migrants. Because let’s face it, deporting migrants
sounds way more reasonable than deporting individuals
who have been forced to flee their country because of persecution,
war, and violence – the United Nations definition of refugee. (Applause) And in naming these people this way, we’ve attributed to them a choice
instead of a circumstance, some economic gain instead
of a desperation to flee a war zone. These little ones
are refugees, not migrants. I took this photo last year
at a refugee camp on the Syrian-Turkish border,
and contrary to popular belief, they aren’t poisons. They’re not here to steal our democracy
or to take over our neighborhoods. They’re people, families who wish that they could go home but have had to make
that home somewhere else. And we’ve come to this point,
where the word ‘migrant’ essentially means piles of brown,
foreign-speaking people, and we end up forgetting
that there was a point where some people would’ve considered
those who looked like this to be migrants as well. (Applause) Right, though? (Applause) And it is in this forgetfulness
that we assume, monopolize on people’s stories,
attribute their race, social class, religions, clothing to the names
that we chose for them. Terrorism is a fine
modern-day example, unfortunately. In the past few years, so much violence
has just spread across our country, but when you watch the news,
there’s always a specification as to whether or not
terrorism was involved, which I think we all know
means the killer looked like this. [Arab dude] Which… (Laughter) He’s a babe! Which must mean… (Laughter) Which must mean that the killer,
of course, pledges his allegiance to this. [ISIS] Right? But correct me if I’m wrong, news coverage
does in fact tend to be a little different when the terrorist looks like this. [Robert Dear, Planned Parenthood Shooter] (Applause) And it ultimately
has us forgetting that terrorism, by definition of terrorism, has always come in all shapes [Ku Klux Klan] and colors. [Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City Bomber] (Cheers) (Applause) And what happens when we confine
certain names with certain depictions, wrongfully excluding some
and including others, we end up caging masses of people
under a name that says ‘dangerous,’ even if they’re nowhere near it. Like when we say ‘thug’
instead of 17-year-old black child. [Trayvon Martin] When we say ‘alien’
instead of ‘immigrant.’ When we say ‘lazy poor people’
instead of ‘unequal wealth distribution.’ When we say ‘bomb’ instead of ‘clock.’ [Ahmed Mohammad, clock inventor] (Applause) (Cheers) This man’s name is Craig Hicks. He’s often referred to
as a parking dispute, but his real name is a man who shot
and killed three Americans in their homes, in their heads, execution style
because they were Muslim. His name is hate crime. Their names are Deah, Yusor, and Razan, a 23 year old, 21, and 19. Deah and Yusor were just named
husband and wife, newlyweds, and the three were known
by their loved ones as sons and daughters, brothers,
sisters, students, activists, Instagrammers, tax payers, Americans. But now, their names
are too young to have been taken, their names are rest in peace,
Allah Yerhamo. Hicks did not ask them their name. He assigned it to them
when he assigned them each a bullet, named them a threat to his America,
and as a result, took their lives. This is a photo
on Deah and Yusor’s wedding day. It’s so beautiful. They were killed
before they could even see this. Studies show that during
breaking news coverage, the first story is the one
that sticks, even if it isn’t true. Like during the Paris attacks, when there was talk
that refugees were dangerous because they found a passport, only to later confirm that there were
no Syrians or refugees involved. But when we have such
a huge habit of misnaming people, it’s easy to overlook
these kinds of mistakes. And this is exemplary
of what happens in a culture of fear. In a society that doesn’t ask
one another their names, you end up with the mouth of an anchorman or the mouth of a gun
doing all the talking. On September 11th, 2001, I attended a private K-8 Islamic school, and within the first hours of the tragedy, my school received two bomb threats. The word ‘terrorist’
was not on my spelling list, but all of us kids picked it up
pretty soon after. And in naming us terrorists
amidst this mass tragedy that affected us as Americans too, in the words of Dalia Mogahed, we were not just mourners,
but we were suspects as well. But, a few months ago, me and my very handsome,
white-boy-looking brother named Usama were at the museum
buying planetarium tickets, and an elderly white man
walked up to me and said, “I’m sorry about everything
you must be going through right now. I want you to know that not all Americans
believe what these buffoons are saying.” (Applause) “Yeah, he used the word ‘buffoons!'” (Applause) And he said, “I want you to know
that we stand by you.” Now, had I not been wearing
a little piece of my identity on my head, he wouldn’t have known to tell me this. And even though he didn’t ask me
what my name was, he instead told me his. I have learned from experience
that when someone really wants to know, they will be willing to cross
that threshold of fear and find out that my name means hope. And then, they’ll have the courage
to ask the much more important questions that probably only I can answer, like, “What’s that thing on your head? Were you forced to wear it? Are all Muslims really violent people? Does the Quran
really say to kill all of us? Can you please tell me
what’s up with ISIS?” And these questions,
though seemingly uncomfortable, are how I know that I have been humanized, and are how the courageously curious
know that really, I’m only as scary
as the silence fear festers in. Upon meeting someone new,
we ask their names. We do not assign it to them. And with that name, we are given ancestry, bloodlines and dialects, books and poems, perspectives, wars, struggles,
and survival stories. “What’s your name?”
is such a short distance to cross, but when you ask me, oh, buddy! I will take you from Kuala Lumpur
to Barcelona to Beirut. We’re going to go to Damascus,
to Sydney, to Trinidad and Tobago. I will show you Mecca, my closet with 70-plus
international scarves, the graves of my 31 family members
who’ve been killed in Syria, the coffee shop that I hang out at
and do my homework. But we must have the courage
to claim our curiosity, to go beyond anything we ever knew,
anything we ever feared. But it takes two: the elephant who offers the mint and the one who takes it. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 Comments

  • Syeda A

    January 6, 2020

    Just loved the way she giggle and smile 😘 keep going u girl

    Reply
  • Gabriela Marques

    January 7, 2020

    It was very nice for Europe to expel refugees, because when they were facing World War II they literally rushed to various countries as refugees

    Reply
  • Azrule Baharome

    January 7, 2020

    Such an eloquent orator! Delivering deep humanity wisdom so subtle and witty that it touches our heart and soul. That genuine giggles that really hide a deep sorrow inside. Bless and love to you Amal. A Hope for life and the living!

    Reply
  • George Happy

    January 7, 2020

    She is so sweet. That voice…

    Reply
  • Genesis Kravitz

    January 7, 2020

    I love her hijab. Every word she spoke is truth

    Reply
  • Mehar669

    January 7, 2020

    Thumbs up

    Reply
  • murat karakas

    January 8, 2020

    Annoying laugh

    Reply
  • Sam Steel

    January 8, 2020

    I wanna be her friend 😭

    Reply
  • Nur Hafizah Azahari

    January 9, 2020

    beauty with brain

    Reply
  • Katherine Draucker

    January 9, 2020

    To have a conversation with her would be incredible!!

    Reply
  • Deeyah

    January 10, 2020

    She is amazing

    Reply
  • Moonlight 307

    January 11, 2020

    I’m too late but She is so sweet I loved the way she presented the problem and started solving it that simply 💙actually her words are 100% true some people are suffering while others are condemning them of things they didnt do😕 حبيت روحها الحلوة و ربنا يقوينا جميعا يارب

    Reply
  • Magnolia TM

    January 11, 2020

    This deserves all the likes

    Reply
  • Mahya Islam

    January 11, 2020

    She sounds like cardi B and acts like anne hathaway

    Reply
  • Sam Rama

    January 11, 2020

    It's very easy to preach about the greatness of a religion when you were born in America and are an American citizen; however, how does that help anyone being slaughtered right now living outside of America and in majority Muslim countries by people following the words literally written in the Qur'an? It's not.

    Reply
  • melisha valentin

    January 12, 2020

    Why are there so many dislikes on this…?

    Reply
  • Erdem İri

    January 12, 2020

    Terrorism has not skin, country or religion. It's depent definitely personal and social. I mean unconscionable people

    Reply
  • Super Natural

    January 12, 2020

    😂😂😂هاي داخلة عشان تنشهر مو مدورة عدين ولا عالإسلام

    Reply
  • Super Natural

    January 12, 2020

    Do not be deceived by false appearances, because not everything that glitters is gold, and not everyone who speaks with a beautiful tongue has a clean heart and a good mind.😏

    Reply
  • Super Natural

    January 12, 2020

    The snake has smooth skin and smooth texture, but its tongue drips poison … Also the chameleon ☝️😌changes its skin color according to the place color

    Reply
  • Roonie

    January 13, 2020

    4:53 I felt that man😩

    Reply
  • jodyshuaige

    January 13, 2020

    dont bring moeslem here

    Reply
  • Era

    January 13, 2020

    religion is included in The Human Rights…religions violate many Human Rights!

    Reply
  • rahma mohamed

    January 14, 2020

    She can make you laugh, criticize , cry and admire her at the same time .. amazing young lady.

    Reply
  • seesee bee

    January 14, 2020

    things happen for valid reasons (mostly).

    Reply
  • amal abdallah

    January 14, 2020

    The translation is not correct and not fair at all. Whenever she mentioned refugees, they translated it to the meaning of migrants. Seriously? This is very inappropriate! 😏

    Reply
  • Muslim Flat Earth

    January 14, 2020

    هذه الشخصية لا تمتل المسليمات نهائيا لا حجاب ولا اخلاق و تشبت بالتقافة ولا شئ . هذا سلاح للمسلمين استيقيضو هذا والله هراء و غفلة انظرو جيدا لهذه الكائنة هل تبدو لكم انها مسلمة لا علاقة لها . WEEK UP .

    Reply
  • evelyn adzoe

    January 15, 2020

    I love her beautiful laugh. Like tinkling bells.

    Reply
  • The Truth Hurts BlackPower

    January 15, 2020

    She is correct, simply asking one’s name makes them human again….Bless you sister..Namanste🙌🏾

    Reply
  • ihsan

    January 15, 2020

    Please give indonesian subtitle

    Reply
  • muneeb abbas

    January 15, 2020

    MashaAllah, more love to you!

    Reply
  • Sadou asta-adji

    January 15, 2020

    Wow beautiful, ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  • Anonymous

    January 16, 2020

    I’m not Muslim
    but I’m happy she came and spoke for those who feel like her
    She’s really funny and beautiful.
    It proves that people aren’t what they look like
    And what colour their hair and skin is.
    She must feel really proud to represent the respectful and kind muslims and not the stereotypes

    Reply
  • Olimata Kah

    January 16, 2020

    superb.

    Reply
  • vicdan en büyük delildir

    January 16, 2020

    Modern dünyanın günah çıkartma şekli: Şov yap, alkışla ve günahlarından arın.

    Reply
  • gary george

    January 16, 2020

    Minorities, wherever you are, are bound to face some sort of discrimination. It is the degree what matters. In the west, the system will stand by you if you are discriminated because of your race, religion or colour. But in most countries, specially in Muslim countries, the minorities do not have this privilege to air their grievances. They leave those countries if they get any chance.

    Reply
  • gary george

    January 16, 2020

    Public perception about Muslims in the non-Muslim countries are not very positive. This has become worse in the last twenty years. A small minority of Muslims are to blame for the mayhem they have created in the world. But the silence of the majority Muslims do not help the matter.

    Reply
  • gary george

    January 16, 2020

    I have every sympathy for her how she feels, but this is not an ideal world.

    Reply
  • Harleen Kour

    January 17, 2020

    We should always take in refuges. But we should keep out an eye for what sort of problems they are running away from. And we should make sure they won't bring them in.. (Looking at you sharia)

    Reply
  • Harleen Kour

    January 17, 2020

    This woman is so sweet. And naive as well. Looks like she has no idea why women were made to wear hijab. No it's not a choice.

    It looks like a choice in USA because you know – the culture is much tolerant than the middle eastern cultures.

    Reply
  • The Study Budy

    January 17, 2020

    It truly utterly breaks my heart when people really don’t ask your name here even in the comments people are just making assumptions ! Oh Muslims have been raised to kill ! Oh the Quran is all lies (they even write koran which is wrong and shows that they never actually really read it ) so how do they know what it says. All my life born and raised in the Middle East I was never taught violence our religion or Islam classes were always about peace, manners , family and even how you should treat all people equally the hateful people in the world break my heart ♥️

    Reply
  • Ramaraksha

    January 18, 2020

    Muslims are very good at this woe is us – look how we are being discriminated etc. But then go to the countries where they are the vast majority and see how they abuse minorities! You ask wait a minute, how come when you are the majority you get to treat minorities like dirt? Sharia laws, Islamic laws, blasphemy laws abusing minorities. All the top jobs are reserved for Muslims. A Muslim can convert a non-muslim but the reverse is not allowed!
    People ready to point the fingers at others screaming discrimination but silent about their own abuse

    Reply
  • Wyatt Earp

    January 18, 2020

    When Mohammed wrote the koran , didn't think that jews and christians and all other non-muslims were people. We are all just infidels who deserve to be slaughter.

    Reply
  • Chantelle Collins

    January 19, 2020

    Am I the only one who doesn’t think her use of the N word is appropriate…

    Reply
  • AK Nanee

    January 19, 2020

    Nice to listen to but I’m really not a fan of the American Flag hijab…..I wouldn’t like any country’s flag as a hijab…..I think it distracts from the woman.

    Reply
  • shahrin shahlolz

    January 19, 2020

    Lovely sista!! Nice speech..Allahuakbar!! May God bless you n family through out yr journey!!

    Reply
  • Tatiana Gonzalez

    January 19, 2020

    In the first ten seconds of her speaking i knew she was a slam poet

    Reply
  • Md Anwarul Islam Mithu

    January 19, 2020

    This is called powerfull speech

    Reply
  • Hdjdj Djdjdjd

    January 20, 2020

    👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

    Reply
  • Maryam Al-ghazali

    January 20, 2020

    Definition of United Nations is more like one-sided united America whatever we require them to do, don’t do it is a joke

    Reply
  • Wasaful Sk

    January 20, 2020

    Any Indians here???.

    Reply
  • Ahammed Sagor_official

    January 22, 2020

    There's no god accept Allah

    Reply
  • Hasvico Lesvic

    January 22, 2020

    indan

    Reply
  • Tejan Kallon

    January 22, 2020

    This made my day.
    Thank u sis.

    Reply
  • Aysegül Güven

    January 23, 2020

    O kadar dil koymuşsunuz Türkçe neden yok .Lütfen koyun

    Reply
  • Arsh s

    January 23, 2020

    The way she smile ❤

    Reply
  • لا سيف إلا ذو الفقار لا فتى إلا علي

    January 23, 2020

    I want to come to Mecca

    Reply
  • MRDINGLEBARRYNWO

    January 25, 2020

    I refuse to fall into the trap!!!

    Reply
  • Michele Briere

    January 25, 2020

    Truth!

    Reply
  • whisperingmists

    January 27, 2020

    Amal is adorable and passionate, but she's wrong or misrepresenting almost everything she says. I don't doubt her sincerity, but I think she is ideologically blind. It's a human foible, but one we should work against.

    Edit: My name means "truth."

    Reply
  • آيه منصور

    January 27, 2020

    The 1st tedx's talking that I wish it had never finished

    Reply
  • euphoryuh

    January 28, 2020

    She’s beautiful 😍

    Reply
  • Simmergame123

    January 28, 2020

    When she mentioned the word Punjabi, I thought of my great grandmother, and back at home in her time, some muslim men would force girls and boys to take their clothes off, so they could see if you were muslim or not and if you looked muslim, they would leave you alone, but if you looked hindu, then they’d shoot you. Sometimes she would tell me how scary it was to go to school, or walking home from wherever. She had no choice but to go on her own wherever she went, and it was very dangerous and scary, but she was lucky.

    Reply
  • Fndr R

    January 28, 2020

    People that have been forced to flea their country because of what Islam teaches. Assuming all detractors are brain dead hill Billies doesn’t really do much. There are many great people that are Muslim, the problem is what Islam teaches and the oppression it promotes.

    Reply
  • June Ver Mangao

    January 29, 2020

    Those who dislikes are The racists.

    Reply
  • Fakiya Erram

    January 30, 2020

    Amal means Hope…
    Hope for the courageous people, for the scared IMMIGRANTS, for the night that's gonna soon turn into Daylight!
    😭😭😭😭

    Reply
  • UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE ACADEMY

    January 30, 2020

    I love Syrians the kindest people ❤❤

    Reply
  • Sceaser Julius

    January 30, 2020

    Muslim on an airplane, oh boy here. We . Go. What can go wrong?

    Reply
  • Nadeem Khan

    January 31, 2020

    Underneath the Her Loving Laugh there are Lots of hidden sorrow screaming,,, matter is few feels it and many who cares 🙁

    Reply
  • tmilev

    February 1, 2020

    factory for terorist

    Reply
  • The bright sun

    February 1, 2020

    Are you a humane ? What a beautiful soul you have 🌷🌷🌷

    Reply
  • The bright sun

    February 1, 2020

    I will not forget this video ever .. you are awesome 👏

    Reply
  • The bright sun

    February 1, 2020

    5700 dislikes from trump’s accounts

    Reply
  • Solemnly i

    February 2, 2020

    I just notice her headwear is the American flag.

    Reply
  • Tanice McIntosh

    February 2, 2020

    I love this woman. She is real spiritual ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    Reply
  • R A Kautz Photo

    February 3, 2020

    Trayvon Martin was a thug. DON'T LIE!!! If that is your example of innocence then none of what you say is credible.

    Reply
  • Taha Shalan

    February 4, 2020

    one of my favorites, Amal kassir thank you

    Reply
  • inimacam

    February 4, 2020

    I 've just fallen in love .

    Reply
  • islamo

    February 4, 2020

    Mashallah 👏👏👏

    Reply
  • arberia vision

    February 5, 2020

    Lady dont blame anyone else accept your prophet. "The Prophet Muhammad boasted, “I have been made victorious with terror". [Bukhari: 4.52.220]

    Reply
  • Somali Review

    February 5, 2020

    I love that head wear!

    Reply
  • Jess Twix

    February 5, 2020

    I have found my new hero, though I cant relate to her in any way at all as a white girl, I still will preach her message

    Reply
  • Lic51

    February 6, 2020

    I am annoyed she is wearing US flag, like Trump administration is refusing entry to the country to muslim countries…wtf. She lost me.

    Reply
  • malsa as mal

    February 7, 2020

    masha allah 😍 1 of the most amaxing n motivating ,heart touching ted talks i ever watched in my whole 16 yrs on earth
    al hamdhulihllah ❤

    Reply
  • NOUR ELHOUDA

    February 7, 2020

    لولا ترجمة لكنت أضحك ومش فاهمة الآن أضحك وفاهمة

    Reply
  • Ahmet abdi kahin

    February 8, 2020

    Muslim america 😪✌

    Reply
  • Atif Rana

    February 8, 2020

    What is the use of hijab for? Your body is shown up.

    Reply
  • Babalo Duma

    February 8, 2020

    I have fallen in love.

    Reply
  • Arshad Arshad

    February 9, 2020

    I saw this video six times and every time I see it like the first time.

    Reply
  • Tamer Fekri

    February 9, 2020

    You really made my day by that beautiful speech Amal. You really gave me HOPE ☺️. GOD bless you 👍.

    Reply
  • East_London_Hijabi _

    February 9, 2020

    mashallah, may Allah bless this sister for her da'wah and may Allah help her in further doing so. it's so inspiring to see beautiful strong Muslim women like her and I hope to be like too one day.

    Reply
  • Jane Mac

    February 9, 2020

    Amazing speech, you had the audience captivated. True inspiration ♥

    Reply
  • bunga chengkeh

    February 9, 2020

    I was quite shocked hearing my city in your amazing speech
    Assalamualaikum from Malaysia 🇲🇾

    Reply
  • Husnatul Qodriyah

    February 10, 2020

    Amazing, love to Amal

    Reply
  • Mir aakib Aakib

    February 10, 2020

    She is a sincere and a true girl may Almighty ALLAH bless her and her family, aamin

    Reply
  • Alexandra nyc

    February 11, 2020

    the problem remains that the countries you come from are enemies of the west & until you renounce your country as brutal regimes & declare your loyalty to the US or britian, or france, etc.. you are named "unsure about you". & my name is "im aware".

    Reply
  • Joshua Smith

    February 12, 2020

    how tf are there 5.7k dislikes???

    Reply
  • gustavo bretana

    February 12, 2020

    AMAZING YA ILAHI !!!!!!!! MASHA ALLAH !!!

    Reply
  • Blaze064

    February 12, 2020

    I haven’t watched the full video yet but I already love Amal, her personality is amazing

    Reply
  • Livette Lianny Vazquez

    February 12, 2020

    She was the right person to deliver this message! And she delivered it very well! I love this TED talk and Amal!

    Reply

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