Article by Faras Aamir | Photography by John Morin | Owl Staff
Immediately after the crowning, the 2014 Miss America pageant winner, Nina Davuluri, was harassed across many different social networks by dozens of Americans simply for being an Indian American. Tweets and racial posts were sent out by outraged viewers, mostly reminding everyone that “this is America,” even though Davuluri was born in New York. Others even called her names like “Miss Al-Qaeda.”
Davuluri is one of many South Asians who have been discriminated against and has had her cultural and religious background mistaken for another. The times when Arabs, Indians, or Pakistanis are actually brought up in the media often has to do with some sort of link to terrorism instead of the beauty and uniqueness in their nations’ people and rich cultures. Similarly, it is no secret that when playing the latest Call of Duty game or watching the latest war movie out in theaters who the game developers and directors depict as the enemy.
To change people’s mindset and show true and untold stories, a few individuals, including myself, are finding creative ways to fight this negative notion through social media. Humble The Poet, or Mr. Kanwer Singh, is an elementary school teacher, a Toronto bred MC and a spoken word artist who tours the world and entertains millions on YouTube.
Through his spirited music and intellectual poetry, he is able to shake people’s minds with his incredible knowledge and outlook on the world. The best part is that he does all of this with a turban around his head and a beard on his face to show people the peace and uniqueness that he brings with the image instead of the false symbolism that is often linked with the Sikh religion and Indian background. He often reminds us to be logical in judgment regarding other human beings, with clever sayings such as, “remember, beards are softer than stubble.”
Yousef Erekat, a Palestinian Muslim, is another YouTuber who is one of the most influential people on the site with over two million subscribers. Since he started the channel, “fouseyTUBE,” back in 2011, Yousef has been pushing for social change by doing experiments in public to see how bystanders react.
Some of his most popular videos include “The Bullying Experiment,” “The Kidnapping Children Experiment,” and “The Terrorist Hijabi Experiment.” All of these videos capture how many people are seen staring at something they know is wrong and continuing to do nothing about it. Yousef knows how powerful his role is and explains, “My story ain’t the only one I’m tryna’ tell.”
My name is Faras Aamir, but I also go by the name “Farosty.” I promote social change and open-mindedness through my art on various social media outlets. I am an American Muslim who was born and raised in Pakistan for five years. I am an entertainer and producer, but more importantly, a dreamer and creator. Through music and art, my YouTube videos have landed me on multiple international TV spots and even earned me a Youth Excellence Award from Governor Martin O’Malley.
I recently started posting videos on YouTube in hopes of entertaining my friends. Little did I know that by sharing my thoughts and visions I would attract a much larger fan base who feel influenced and proud to share a similar ethnicity, religion, or just simply the same view as me.
I took on the challenge and responsibility to promote the change this world needs by humbly doing my part. Recently, I got to visit the beautiful country where I grew up and I had an amazing time exploring the different cities and landmarks from the raw streets to the tall mountains.
Pakistan is nothing like they show on the news or in movies, which makes sense because “a good day in Pakistan” is not something that is going to make headlines or catch anyone’s attention. I decided I was going to use the little bit of recognition I was getting to make a music video there in order to show the true beauty in the art and people which make the land what it is. I titled the song “We BeLong.” It tells a story of a country that has not truly been seen by the world before.
The music video went on to land me a few interviews on TV and for newspapers while I was filming it, and some more international coverage in New York and Washington, D.C. when I came back to the states.
My goal is not just to distinguish the difference between a few bordering countries with their diverse religions and cultures, or only to eliminate the discrimination and racism towards them. It is also to open people’s minds and help them realize the individuality and uniqueness we all have independent from all that we come from.
No matter what God we may (or may not) believe in, we are all a part of one world and one family. And we all belong.