VIDEO IS UP!

Hello all!

It's been an eventful few weeks, and thank you all for the messages of support you have sent through - it has meant a lot.

That's all I will say about that though! What I really wanted to do was share this video of a sweeeeet panel session I did at 'All About Women' a couple of weeks ago with two other amazing writers, Lindy West and Van Badham.  Check it out below!

What do you reckon?

Enjoy your week folks! 

Are you someone who organises events?

...then I'd love to hear from you!

I'm doing some research on how people find speakers for events - whether it's for a big conference or a local primary school - in an effort to design a platform that could suit the needs of the industry... while also serving the social purpose of increasing the representation of women of colour.  If you're someone who is often tasked with finding speakers for your organisation or company - or know someone who does - it would be great to have your feedback and experience included in the research.

Click on THIS LINK to go to the (very short) survey to tell me about your speaker finding/hiring experience, and stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you know any awesome women of colour who you think does (or would) make an awesome speaker, nominate them on MUMTAZA today!

#YasMENAtour

EXCITING ZOMG ALHAMDULILAH THO.

I'm incredibly honoured to be hosted by the Australian Embassies across the MENA (Middle East and North Africa region) for a speaking tour over the next few weeks. I'll be visiting a number of countries, and although not all stops have public events I will do my best to make time to meet people inshallah. If you can come to any of the public sessions though, I would LOVE to see you there!

Stay up to date with the tour via Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @yassmin_a.

Schedule Inshallah:

5th - 6th Nov: Riyadh

7th Nov: Abu Dhabi

8th Nov: Dubai

9th Nov: Doha, Qatar

10th Nov: Kuwait

11th - 13th Nov: Amman, Jordan

14th - 15th Nov: Ramallah, Palestine

16th - 17th Nov: Jerusalem

18th Nov: Tel Aviv

19th - 20th: Cairo, Egypt  

21st Nov: Khartoum Sudan.

If you have questions about specific locations, hit me up on Facebook / Insta / Twitter inshallah.

Can't wait! 

Also - check out the hashtag #YasMENAtour to follow along inshallah :) 

The End of the Road: Leaving Youth Without Borders.

…the end came without fanfare.

Today, the 31st of October 2016, I chaired my final Board meeting at the helm of the organisation I founded in 2007, Youth Without Borders.

I was 16. 16! It was a time of dial up internet, Nokia 3210s, and my traditional hijabi look. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what journey I had just begun. I also had no idea why people thought it was such a big deal, starting something at 16. I just had a lot of energy and wanted to change the world! My parents wouldn’t let me do drugs, so I started an organisation instead. Seemed like a fun thing to do. Why not, right?

The Asia Pacific Cities Summitβ€Šβ€”β€Šwhere the idea for Youth Without Borders was formed

The Asia Pacific Cities Summitβ€Šβ€”β€Šwhere the idea for Youth Without Borders was formed

This end has arrived without fanfare. It has crept up on me, not unexpectedly, but with a finality that leaves me unmoored, bobbing in the current of an uncharted future. I’m left with sense that one should be celebrating, but I mostly just want a long afternoon lying on the grass, starting at the sun, reminiscing at times that will never be experienced in the same way again.

β€˜My baby’ is all grown up. It walks and talks, it lives and breaths. It is different to what I wanted it to be, what I hoped for it when it was born, but thenβ€Šβ€”β€Šaren’t all children like that? Like I assume it is with kids, I did my best to provide a solid set of morals and values that will guide it through the world, and the rest, well. It’s not my choice anymore, really. Isn’t that scarily beautiful?

Honestly, one of the main reasons why we still exist almost a decade later, as one of the oldest true youth-led organisations in the country, is the fact that we stuck with it. Boring, right? We just didn’t quit. We almost did, many a time… but importantly, we didn’t.

β€˜We’ was quite often myself and a few of the engineering boys I corralled into doing a fundraising BBQ. β€˜We’ was whoever I could convince to stick with it for a little while. β€˜We’, was sometimes just me.… but β€˜we’ made it. Teenagers and young people wanting to change things, before being a β€˜youth-led organisation’ was part of a government’s plan to reinvigorate the economy. Subhanallah.

First conference we attended as YWB members in 2008

First conference we attended as YWB members in 2008

There are many stories to share. For now, I just take this moment to acknowledge and thank every single one of the people who were a part of the Youth Without Borders journey. Without you, we would have never existed. Really, YOU are what makes this organisation great. Lucy, Anthonyβ€Šβ€”β€Šthe OG’sβ€Šβ€”β€Šthank you for believing in me at the very beginning. I may have inadvertently made your life difficult at times, and for that, I apologise. To all who may have had a less than optimal experience: for what it is worth, we always tried to do our work in good faith. I hope you will forgive me having to learn critical lessons at your expense.

I am who I am because of Youth Without Borders. But Youth Without Borders is not what it is because of me. It is thanks to the collective sweat equity of hundreds of young people who gave the organisation life, and in doing so believed in their capacity to make a positive impact on the world around them.

In a time when things seem to be falling apart, it’s nice to remember that all over the world, there are young people determined not to let that happen. Have faith in that. Have faith in the fact that the good stuff doesn’t make it in the news, but the good is happening all around you, all the time.

But it does its work and leaves. Its touch is light, imperceptible. Good happens without fanfare.

Fanfare.

Fanfare.

Alhamdulilah for the strength to lead, for the capacity to be heard, for the fortitude to forge on. Alhamdulilah, always.

This was originally posted on Medium.

Right of Reply: A Call for Difficult Conversations, Not Censorship

In case you missed it, I wrote a reply in the New York Times to Lionel Shriver's piece, and also to further clarify the points I made in the original Medium/Guardian essay.

To the Editor:

Re β€œWill the Left Survive Millennials?,” by Lionel Shriver (Op-Ed, Sept. 23):

My initial response to Ms. Shriver’s keynote address at the Brisbane Writers Festival last month β€” walking out and writing about why β€” seemed to be largely misunderstood. Many took the reaction to be a call for censorship and responded with fury. They took as a given the right to say and write what they want, without critique, consequence or interrogation of intent.

The debate is not about censorship: People can write in the voices they please. The real question is whether they should. It is about the structures that define the world in which we live and work.

Fiction does not exist in a vacuum: It becomes people’s realities, because so often the only exposure we have to those with very different lived experiences to our own is through stories. But this discussion is larger than the world of fiction.

Ms. Shriver claimed that those who now fight for equality have become the oppressor. Her words betrayed a disappointment that the times are changing, and lamented that people are so terrified of being caught saying the wrong thing that they instead choose not to say anything at all.

This must be the same censorship that sees her books published, her keynote addresses delivered and her Op-Ed article published in The New York Times. Her perspective betrayed a deep fragility, born out of the fear of change. To those with privilege, equality may feel like oppression. But equality need not be a zero-sum game. Framing it so seeks to divide and ultimately to halt progress.

Yes, the times are changing. Millennials, like me, are agitating for us all to be better, and that should come with the acceptance that nobody is beyond reproach. Difficult conversations will make us all uncomfortable. Good. That discomfort is how we improve, how we render the best characters, best stories, how we create the most equitable societies.

So rather than making broad, sweeping generational assessments, how do we move forward? We can start with intent. Is the intent to preserve the status quo, or to demand more?

YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED

Melbourne, Australia

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Upcoming Events

So I've started posting upcoming events on this link. Let me know if you're coming along - I'd love to see you there! Also do bring along your copy of Yassmin's Story if you'd like it signed!  

I'm pretty excited about the Melbourne Writers Festival by the way... check out a write up about it here! The Storyology event (flier below) should also be great, inshallah.  

Can we actually, truly change?

Change.  We talk a lot about it but how often does it truly happen in the way we want it to? There are all sorts of studies, speeches and books dedicated to the concept and yet, it sometimes seems nebulous.  

One of the really interesting questions that I often hear - and ask myself - is whether people can ever truly change. 

Can someone who has committed a grievous crime be truly rehabilitated? Can someone who has traditionally been socially conservative become extremely liberal, and/or vice versa? Can someone who hates sport turn into an ironwoman/man? 

As I was pondering this very question on my last flight, I came across this podcast... Invisibilia's study on personalities.

I highly recommend you listen to it, and then have a think about what I drew as the conclusion. It's all in our mind... 

...and I think this book is now on my reading list.

Enjoy! 

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