It is easy for some to assume that I don’t like my country. Though I write about a variety of topics, understandably—given the age we live in—the articles about politics that I write are the ones that get the most traction and reaction. Invariably, because I refuse to be partisan and I don’t cater to one ideology or another, my writing about our political system is brutal in its candor. Those who don’t read the totality of my work can easily jump to conclusion and think I’m anti-America. This assumption could not be further from the truth; I love America and the ideals she stands for. If I am harsh in writing about politics, it’s only because I cherish the hope that America represents.
Patriotism in not blind loyalty; love of country is standing up for the values America espouses and demanding that we live up to her principles. We can’t outsource our civic duty to politicians nor can we expect those in authority to be benevolent in their use of power. We the people must be vigilant in holding those in office and those with influence to affect policies accountable. We must demand more and we must demand justice; we can’t let America go the way of previous empires without doing our level best to keep her from sinking into the abyss. Warts and all, America is the beacon to the world. While I detest our politics; I love my nation.
The reasons I love America are plenty. As a refugee from Ethiopia who fled a Marxist government, America was my safe harbor and a land that gave my family and me a shelter. I’ve written copiously about my own story; let me take the chance to introduce the amazing story of two sisters who arrived in America from a refugee camp in Sudan to highlight the wonders of this blessed land and her people. It was a random Facebook notification that inspired this article; a post from Feven Yohannes led me to discover her story and the company Feven and her sister Helena started after settling in America.
There are few countries where this is possible; America is a fertile soil for dreamers where once refugees living in outposts can turn a vision into a business. Feven and Helena are the founders of a clothing company (visit their website fevenandhelena.com). As an Ethiopian, seeing the success of Feven and Helena, who are Eritrean, is something that makes me proud. The drive and determination of Feven and Helena represents possibility and hope not only for immigrants from the horn of “Africa”, their success is a road map for all Americans. Imagine the wealth we can build up in our various communities if we buy from entrepreneurs who live among us and shop locally. Instead of buying from Walmart and handing our hard earned money to multinational corporations, imagine the sea change that can take place if we empowered those who live in our community.In all honesty, I know nothing about Feven and Helena outside of what I read about them on their website and seeing their work on social media. But what I found out about them was enough to move me to write this article. Theirs is the immigrant story; arrive in America with little to name, work hard to make it and don’t give up in achieving the American dream. It was never politicians and corporations that made America great; what made America a nation among nations is the tears of the oppressed, the hopes of immigrants and the audacity of entrepreneurs. While we can’t gloss over the injustices committed in the past, we would be remiss if we did not appreciate the possibility that is America.
I highlight Feven and Helena’s work for this reason. As these two amazing sisters and entrepreneurs achieve in Los Angeles, may others who strive to make it have tenacity and determination to fulfill their dreams (read more about Feven and Helen here). For the rest of us, as we fight for justice and demand more from our leaders, let us not overlook the abundance of this nation. Perhaps the key is to protest less and invest in each other more. Let the story of Feven and Helena be a reminder of what is beautiful about America and let us recommit to empowering each other and our communities. From a refugee camp to entrepreneurs, this is the story of America worth cherishing and protecting. #FevenAndHelena
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Check out Feven and Helena on YouTube and make sure to scroll down below to follow their work on various social media platforms.
Check out Feven and Helena’s Facebook page by CLICKING HERE or on the picture below
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Follow Feven and Helena on Twitter by CLICKING HERE or clicking on picture below.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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