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Textbook co-authored by Kurdish scholar offers marginalized youth and those with disabilities fair access to education

Textbook co-authored by Kurdish scholar offers marginalized youth and those with disabilities fair access to education

Cklara Moradian_2018

May 05-2020
By: Cklara Moradian

KURDISTAN24

 

It is with great honor and a deep sense of pride that I share with you Dr. Soraya Fallah’s textbook Learning Challenges for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Students With Disabilities, co-authored with two other leading national educational experts Dr. Bronte Reynolds and Dr. Wendy Murawski. I have so much respect and admiration for the work they have been able to contribute to our world.

I write this note from a dual perspective. First and foremost, I am the daughter of a scholar and so a witness to the journey from the book’s inception in those early dissertation days to what is now a remarkable accomplishment of a scholarly, peer-reviewed reference source meant to provide guidance and knowledge to educators, teachers, administrators, social workers, clinicians, and parents. But maybe, more importantly, I am sharing my thoughts about this book as a former student with a disability from an understudied and underserved population myself, and as a current professional Social Worker and Psychotherapist serving Culturally and Linguistically Diverse youth with disabilities at a leading pediatric hospital.

Educational Text book_Soraya FallahThis book is the culmination of over five years of scholarship, research, thought-provoking exchanges, conversations, revisions, and edits. It does more than point out learning challenges, the textbook also sheds light on the existence and educational needs of a population of students that are often erased or misrepresented (namely, students with disabilities from Middle Eastern and North African backgrounds) and offers a culturally humble approach to looking for solutions and serving this population within the United States Special Education system.

The book is grounded in a mixed methods rigorous research program that Dr. Fallah conducted directly with this population. Her study was one of the first in the country to look specifically at the experiences of Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asian (MENASWA) families with their children’s special education system. The research coined the umbrella term MENASWA to encompass a group of people who are often stereotyped and racialized together in the US, but this term is not there to further erase the nuance and multiplicity of identity. Rather, it helps us have an inclusive approach to the many ethnic and religious minorities that exist in a vast region gripped in conflict.

The developed book delves into issues of equity, intersectionality, stigma, ableism, and systemic oppression. It also does not shy away from difficult conversations about the role of cultural norms that impact service utilization for these families. I remember very early on we had heated but fruitful conversations about making sure the initial study did not further stigmatize or alienate, that it did not leave out the voices of those most impacted, and that it remained rooted in a liberatory and anti-oppressive theoretical framework. As with all studies, it had its limitations, but I know intimately that it honored the spirit of the disability justice motto: “Nothing About Us Without Us!” The book builds on that study and adds guidance for administrators and educators to further serve this population.

Another critical development in the book is that Dr. Fallah identifies what she calls “A Triple Threat” or Triangle of Triple Threat (TTT) model of looking at this population. In short, this population faces both internal and external stressors of being a minority group, as well as facing structural and institutional barriers to success. I will be the first to critique our education system as often failing our most marginalized students, and we routinely, if not intentionally, leave behind students with disabilities.

We see it today. As COVID-19 forces us to adapt to distance learning, IEP meetings have been cancelled, and very little focus has been given to accommodating students with disabilities. But this has historically been the norm, and this book speaks to that reality. When we add on issues of power and privilege, historic intergenerational trauma, direct experiences of consecutive wars in the Middle East, and a basic erasure of identity and difference, the effects are compounded to create an environment where learning is not just a challenge, but rather a hostile feat. The Triangle of Triple Threat begins to detangle some of these intertwined challenges.

I can say that many of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse youth and families I serve have institutional trauma from their interactions with the education system. Some of that trauma is caused by lack of understanding from seemingly well-meaning, well-intentioned educators and administrators, but it is also caused by policies and practices on a larger scale, such as the fact that the specific needs of this population have been veiled under the category of “white,” and yet they continue to be racialized, stigmatized, and marginalized. This book tackles these issues head-on.

At the core of this book and central to its mission is this idea that we simply have very little information about the experiences of  MENASWA families with their children’s special education system, and we must begin by asking them and learning from them in the hopes of creating a more inclusive space where learning can be possible. This should be the beginning of a longer conversation and I hope this book leads to other young scholars and researchers picking up this work, not just to fill the gaps in the literature, but to contribute to policy shifts that will help serve our students.

I am hoping that as people are forced to stay home in safety, they can find refuge in imagining new possibilities for a better world, one where the needs of all our students are considered and met. This book helps guide us toward that possibility.

You can access the webpage and book cover here.

Cklara Moradian, MSW is a adolescent Psychotherapist, a diaspora Kurd, former refugee, survivor, social justice advocate, spoken word poet, and writer.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Kurdistan 24.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

Source: https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/opinion/ee69c809-50b4-4ce6-80c9-25fde180478b

 

Secondary Trauma by Cklara Moradian

Secondary Trauma

by Cklara Moradian

Cklara Moradian_2018

Secondary Trauma

Kurdish babies born in refugee camps are given names like Sangar (barricade), Awara (displaced), Revin (escape), Zindan (prisoner), Ranjbar (someone who suffers), Firmesk (tears), Bezar (spiteful), Xabat (fight), Tola (revenge), Hawar (wailing) Rizgar (rescued), Snoor (border), Lana (home).

They are victims of geography, survivors of a map.

They grow to sow their lips in protest and they carve symbols into their skin, coordinates of their birthplace as if to say “when you find me, send me home.”

Mothers spend hours lulling their restless children to sleep, singing lullabies that tell of a journey filled with rage. They do not migrate through the process of abscission. They are plucked in violence, deported.

What pains are passed on in these names? What wisdom?

It’s called secondary trauma, as if the seconds it takes to cut the umbilical cord from my mother could insulate me from the torture inflicted on her bones by the state, by displacement, by despair.

As if the lines that separate me from you is drawn in red, or in yellow tape, marking a departure clear enough for me to really feel where you end and I begin. Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

I didn’t have to be there to see my uncles hanged for speaking their mother tongue to taste the bitter end of my roots flicker as I try to speak my language, the fluency of which escapes me now.
I didn’t have to be there to know of what you went through during forced confessions, Father. I didn’t have to hear the wailing of my imprisoned kin to now be startled awake by their cries.

Visions of my ancestors forced from the mountains into the desert with blistering feet keep me awake. I walk barefoot on tiptoes as if my feet are blistered. Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

What is secondary about this intergenerational heirloom, passed down to me without my consent? What massacres happened in this crossing from one continent to the other? What comes first? Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

They say I have not differentiated myself enough (not in my identity formation). The subtleties of my individuality have become murky in the passage of loss from one generation to the other.

I close my eyelids to find refuge but my memory is fact. It is in my DNA, in epigenetic shapeshifting. The past is present.
What is secondary about waking every day to the news of another genocide, another friend dead, another aunt, sister enslaved? Another exodus? What is secondary about ritual mourning? Every morning! When can we heal? When can we fully grieve when it is never-ending? Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

I once read that pain flows from one family member to the next until someone is ready to feel it. I feel it. I feel it in my flesh, in the marrow of my bones, in my gut. It is like pins right under my fingernails, accumulating in somatic bruises on my thighs. And it shows when I reach out to you and say “I bear witness.” Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

At night, I twist and turn into the fetal position, my belly sounding off my people’s history. I carry it in my posture, the way I am weight down by sorrows I have no names for. I hold it in my voice when it vibrates with fear. I am anchored to the agony of exile. It is all-consuming. It is water. It is in the heaviness of the air that does not fully fill my lungs. It is in the space where I sit with all that has been done to you, in all the places where your jawlines were broken by armed men in uniform Father, beaten to shatters until you could not eat for days.

I remember so you can go on forgetting because you need to forget. I remember so you can go on forgetting.

Every time I look in the mirror, the outline of your silhouette is reflecting back your pain. Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

What is secondary about this pain? To me, it has been an offering. It has been a profound loss, wrapped in every conversation, gifted to me in passing. That “all things are lost” is imparted in disorganized attachment, in denial, melancholia, in the sense of betrayal, in bedtime stories of persecution.

My mother, pregnant and imprisoned at 18, was beaten black and blue until she miscarried. I grew up knowing I was not her first child. Grief has come in abundance. Safety was scarce. Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

Where is the line between lived experience and being raised with the knowledge of all that has been lost? Tell me, what is loss?

In the journey of displacement, I have lost language, I have lost language (s). I have lost birth certificates, passports, a state. I have lost the promise of return to a land forever stolen from me. I have lost count of my losses. Tell me, where do you end and I begin?

The coordinates of my birthplace is Latitude 36°14′ 47″N Longitude 46° 15′ 59″ E. I am another refugee child with a mispronounced name. When I die, send me home!

 

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Cklara Moradian, MSW

Cklara Moradian, MSW

Cklara Moradian, MSW; is a diaspora Kurd, a former refugee from Eastern Kurdistan/Iran, and a spoken word poet. Her work is deeply steeped in her life experiences as a survivor.
She uses poetry and creative non-fiction as a response to the current and past atrocities/genocide her community has endured. Her work attempts to bear witness, tell stories of love and survivorship in the face of hardship and pain
Cklara is also a published spoken word poet who has performed at national and international human rights conferences, such as Amnesty International’s annual gathering, UNWomen events, university campuses, such as Cal State LA, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, CalArts, and UCLA, as well as at national and international political rallies and literary events.
Cklara is a Social Worker, who is helping to implement the youth-centered strength-based interventions in clinical and policy/research arenas. Cklara’s work is rooted in anti-oppressive liberatory theory and practice. She hopes to continue to serve multiply-marginalized communities, center disenfranchised voices, and elevate the strengths and resiliency of people who have and continue to deal with personal and intergenerational trauma. Her journey of healing from mental and physical illness informs her work with diaspora communities. Prior to Social Work, for over ten years, Cklara was involved in social justice advocacy.
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