At the end of the 19th century, an African-American writer came up with term “The Talented Tenth” to refer to the possibility of having one out of ten African-Americans contribute and be leaders of their communities. Such a movement came as a reasonable reaction to what African-Americans were going through; centuries of slavery, racism, apartheid, and all forms of violence.
Throughout colonialism and slavery, the black man was portrayed as less intelligent, submissive, and not on the same level as a white man. That movement came to debunk that myth and pushed the community into pursuing education and success. The aim was to create a better representation and thus reverse stereotypes.
Despite all the achievements of the movement, criticism of it eventually came up throughout the following decades. The major questions were: do we have to prove that we deserve our rights? That we are equal to them, by their own definition? That we will be of use to them and thus should be equal partners in our society? Isn’t such rhetoric problematic?
The same questions challenge me as a stateless person from Kuwait. The stateless community in Kuwait – which is referred to as Bedoon – has achieved a lot since the Arab Spring not only by protesting but also by having citizens of Kuwait join them and by effectively using media and social networking to make their plight more visible. After the Arab Spring, several notable Kuwaiti names had to take a clear stance in support of the Bedoon cause before speaking of freedoms, reforms, and human rights. The struggle for a true democracy must includes the Bedoon cause for those Kuwaitis.
Two years ago, many Kuwaitis wouldn’t have hesitated to insult Bedoon or to openly stand against their cause. Officials, members of parliament, NGO players, actors, and others were publicly making discriminatory remarks against the Bedoon without being criticized. Today, everyone thinks twice before committing the offense of insulting this community. Kuwaitis would shame them once and Bedoon would shame them twice by exposing their offense in the media or even by taking the case to court.
* Continue reading this post in Al-Akhbar