On this Black History Month, we wanted to share with you a piece of the Israeli experience through Tahona’s story. We all have a lot of work to do in order to make this world a better, more just place. For this, we have to recognize injustice first.
“My name is Tahona, I’m 31 years old, and my family and I made Aliyah from Ethiopia in 1988. I’ve been in Israel most of my life and I saw myself as a part of the tapestry that is the Israeli society.
However, when I grew up reality hit. Suddenly, older and wiser, I noticed discrimination against Israeli-Ethiopians. This manifested as educational, financial, vocational and health-related violence, and that’s just a partial list. It was racism and it was present everywhere.
The contrast between my naive-childhood-turned-exhausting-adulthood left me with a lot of questions. Imagine a magical child’s world, one that includes dreams and aspiration, and now imagine this world shattering all at once and on the other side the child finds an unjust, cold world. Now imagine that there are thousands of kids like me. Kids who realize that the chances of getting their dreams come true are slim, simply because their skin is dark.
My cousin died young, before his time, because of this reality. It was this loss that made me want to correct the injustice. And that’s how I met many groups and like-minded people and eventually, I became an activist.
I’ve been to protests, I’ve been to the Knesset, but I also wanted to connect with youth, which led me to volunteer at ELEM’s Petach Tikva Outreach Van. Now I get to create meaningful connections with youth, I get to talk to them without judgment. I meet them on the street, sometimes when they’re at their worst. But ELEM taught me what a calling was.”