A first generation Eritrean immigrant, Youth Radio’s Awet Habtom must learn for herself how to navigate her cultural traditions – including sexism and patriarchy.
My dad used to tell me: I shouldn't play sports. I shouldn't wear revealing clothes. I should take care of him and my brothers.
I’m first generation Eritrean. I’m proud of my heritage. I love the music, the food, the holidays. But the society can be pretty patriarchal. Just a couple years ago, the United Nations slammed Eritrea’s treatment of women.
My parents came to the US in the ‘90s. They divorced after I was born. Now, they run very different households. My dad lives with his extended family--my aunts, uncles, and cousins. At mealtime, the men eat, while the women serve them. We don’t sit down until we’re done cleaning up after the men.
I didn’t question this. I didn’t even think to tell my mom. If she had known, she probably wouldn’t have let me visit my dad as much.