A conversation about racism in the Middle East with Abeer Sinder, Aziza Sbaity and Ubah Ali

Three Arab women share their experiences of racial discrimination

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The death of an African-American in police custody, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25, triggered a renewed push to confront racial discrimination that reverberated around the world.

From New York to Paris and Melbourne to Beirut, protesters took to the streets to demand action against systemic racism. The event also sparked much discussion, triggering uncomfortable but important conversations.

In order to raise awareness on such issues in the Middle East, The National invited three women of colour to share their own stories and thoughts.

Abeer Sinder is a beauty vlogger from Saudi Arabia. Ubah Ali is an activist and student from Somaliland who resides in Beirut, where she currently attends The American University of Beirut. And Liberian-Lebanese champion sprinter Aziza Sbaity is dubbed the “fastest woman in Lebanon.”

In a discussion with The National's Saeed Saeed, each of them recounts various forms of racism they've experienced over the years, and discuss how societies can evolve to be fairer.

Racism is kind of in our language," Sbaity says. "The word 'abd' – basically means slave – and the way that it is used in the Arab world basically means a black person.”

Sinder adds: “We have all experienced it – micro-aggressions or full-blown cases of racism. It happens in our world and people have to address it and try their best to be better.”

Ali, whose activism has raised awareness around the plight of some domestic workers in Lebanon, said the recent wave of anti-racism protests encouraged her to raise her voice.

"Seeing this worldwide movement has encouraged me to speak up about this issue,” she said. “Domestic workers need to live with dignity.”

See the full discussion in the video above.