I Am Taught…

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I wrote the following observations/poem on Canadian politics and society based on my experience as a first generation, Muslim-Canadian woman of Palestinian descent, and also on harmful attitudes that I have seen expressed towards and spoken of others.


“I am Taught”


I am told that racism is over.

I am told that sexism is over.

I am told that colonialism is over.

I am regularly told,

Yet I differ in the views I hold.


How can I not differ?

For I am not taught that ethnic cleansing is  part of Canadian history.

I am taught that police forces would only exert violence when necessary.

I am taught that Indigenous peoples are over-funded by the government.

I am taught that the lives of Westerners are superior to other nations.

I am taught to hate foreign terrorists, but not a Western imperialist.

I am taught to praise the state instead of human rights.

I am taught that religious extremism is a greater evil than hyper-nationalism.

I am taught that ungratefulness is when migrants and first-generation Canadians criticize the state.

I am taught that only far more oppressive countries are worthy of condemnation.

I am taught that the government spies only on terror and crime suspects.

I am taught to be suspicious of “illegal immigrants.”

I am taught that feminism is no longer necessary.

I am taught that protestors are a nuisance.

I am taught that justice has political parties.

I am taught that Canada has no  ties with human rights violations abroad.

I am taught that 1990s Canada has hardly changed after 9/11.

I am taught that the most humane political party is the least realistic.

I am taught that wearing the hijab is oppressive, yet it is my choice.

I am taught that racism and sexism are based on individual attitudes.


I am taught these beliefs,

You are taught these beliefs,

We are taught these beliefs.

Let us unlearn them,

You and I.


You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” – George Orwell, 1984


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