i am a migrant

#tbt 5 years ago when I took part in the International Organization for Migration (IOM) “i am a migrant” viral social media campaign to promote diversity and inclusion of migrants in society, amidst the racist, white supremacist, xenophobic political discourse of the Trump administration. The IOM is the principal UN agency concerning migration, including services and advice regarding internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.

Happy, humbled, and honored to be 1 of 1200 profiles from across the globe. This one’s for you: Ami and Abu (my parents); Naanima and Naanajaan (my maternal grandparents); and Shams Mamoo (my beloved dearly departed uncle who sponsored my family’s legal entry into the United States four decades earlier).

As the son and grandson of Muhajirs — Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled Hindu nationalist persecution during the 1947 Partition to the newly formed nation of Pakistan — born and raised in New York City’s Jackson Heights, Queens AKA Little India, sharing my story was intimately impactful.

With the rise of anti-Muslim policy, rhetoric, and violence led by Modi’s fascist Hindutva regime, it is not lost on me how little has changed in the 75 years since Pakistani independence. This summer’s anniversary will be yet another stark reminder: Kashmir, like Palestine, is not yet free; the ugly specter of Islamophobia is alive and well; and thanks to laws like CAA 2019, being Muslim guarantees second-class citizenship at best in the world’s so-called largest democracy.

My name is Farooq (SF Ali). I’m Pakistani-American. I’m a New Yorker in Texas. I’m proud of my heritage. This immigrant ethic constitutes my proud blood, scaffolds my battered sinews, animates each stubborn muscle fiber, and fortifies every defiant nerve. I am a migrant.

Special thanks to my dear friend, the amazing and talented Hajer Naili, for editing and producing this campaign during her time as the Communications and Social Media Officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Washington, D.C. Please give her a follow, support her important work, and stay tuned for upcoming projects. For each clap of this video series, a group of friends and myself will donate and match $1 to The Committee to Protect Journalists. Please follow and support CPJ.


1. Click the applause emoji button below to “clap” for this story. It helps others see the story, helps the story be “selected” by the Medium newsfeed algorithm, lets me know my work is worth writing, reading and recommending and makes me feel validated and fuzzy, because honestly, whose cold, dead heart isn’t instantly thawed and revived by the dizzying dopamine of notifications? Like, share, retweet, lather, rinse, repeat.

2. Full disclosure: for “premium” AKA “members only” Medium stories, “claps” are one of many variables in the labyrinthine formula which compensates we Medium “Partners”. Apologies for the legalese; feel free to imagine me air-quoting each of the above quoted terms.

3. Please share this story with your contacts and/or social network(s): Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, email, etc.

4. Connect with me: Medium, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Product Hunt, AngelList, Quora and formerly Quibb. (I think that’s all of them!) Write me via email too! (fzafar1[at]gmail[dot]com)

5. Call or text if you want. (917) 982–3849.

6. Yes, those are my real personal email address and personal mobile number, yes I read/reply to every single message, even if it extends the realm of seconds and minutes and hours into days and weeks and months (but never years, so we have that going for us), and yes, both have proudly been a matter of public record for years now, as have my mental health advocacy and suicide prevention activism. I’m always happy to make new friends, read/hear/listen, support, and help in any way I can. That’s why I’m Medium’s resident cheerleader.

7. Read my writing and follow me on Medium.

8. Join my mailing list.

9. Champion future stories — only if comfortably able to do so! — by considering a contribution to compensate intellectual labor.

10. Did I ever tell you how much I love you? Because I do. I love you so much.



Medium resident cheerleader since 2015. Author, Brown Grass. Founder, Perennial Millennial. Earned 3 STEM degrees in 5 years. Former management consultant.🕺🏾

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
SF Ali (Farooq)

Medium resident cheerleader since 2015. Author, Brown Grass. Founder, Perennial Millennial. Earned 3 STEM degrees in 5 years. Former management consultant.🕺🏾