Aminah Musa, Preserving the Palestinian Culture through PaliRoots

“Palestine will always be home. It's a place where I can let go of all attachments & no longer need to fit within the crowd. It's a place where I feel most authentic to myself. My spirituality is enhanced through the connections I have with the land, people, and stories we share with another.”
– Aminah Musa, Co-Founder of PaliRoots.

Aminah Musa, Chief Design Officer and Co-Founder of PaliRoots, founded PaliRoots with her brother Hussein in 2016.

Inspired by their Palestinian identity and tradition, PaliRoots is a Palestinian clothing brand aimed at educating and preserving the Palestinian identity, culture and heritage. In addition, the brand builds sustainable projects to support families and children in Palestine, and currently runs the PaliRoots Meal program which provides nutritious meals to school children in Gaza. Aminah says, “Before starting PaliRoots, we spent a lot of time reflecting on our past experiences and challenges of being second generation immigrants. With little money to our family name, we were made due as a family with governmental assistance that provided food to us through our school lunch programs. This humble experience was what inspired us to build the PaliRoots Meal Program”

Born in Jerusalem, Aminah spent most of her life in America and describes her life as a Palestinian-American a “difficult circumstance”, as she often feels like a foreigner in both lands.

She went on to say, “Whenever in doubt, I find myself connecting more to my Palestinian roots because I believe it is when I feel most authentically myself. Being Palestinian teaches me a way of life full of color that is deeply rooted in the richness of my true identity”.

Although spending most of her life in America, Aminah and her siblings often spent time at their grandparents in a small village in Palestine, Turmus ‘Ayya, where they became more familiar and kept in touch with their Palestinian roots; “Our time with our grandparents in Palestine taught us the importance of learning our native language, specifically the Falahi dialect. It also allowed us to see the beauty our culture and traditions offer the world, most importantly being the concept of hospitality”.

The Daily Challenges of Palestinian Youth Living Abroad

In Aminah’s experience, she’s observed that one of the challenges of being a Palestinian growing up in America lies in the difference in cultural values and traditions, and trying to stay true to your roots. She’s also observed the difference in the way community disputes are handled. On this, she went on to say, “What I see today within the younger generation is adapting to participating in the "cancel culture" within our own communities. This ideology is actually forbidden by our ancestors as they taught us that the only way to handle community disputes is through a sit down and a conversation to understand one another to lead to a clearer solution. We are taught to protect one another and to uplift others in the community if we truly want to see our people succeed”.

Aminah also described the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy as one of the greatest discrimination experiences of her Arab roots. As a result of this, she found herself losing touch with her true roots, she stated that: “I found myself subconsciously detaching myself from my roots, losing touch with my native language, and surrounding myself with everything western culture. I also lost the relativity I had with my own people back home including my grandparents”.

However, as she grew older and into her adult years, she spent time traveling back to Palestine and regaining the touch she’s lost with her culture. Through PaliRoots, she is dedicated to preserving Palestinian roots by educating the younger Palestinian generation about societal pressure and encouraging them to stay true to their roots no matter the pressure that comes from this.

Despite the challenges, Aminah shared that her Palestinian identity is what paved her way and helped her to overcome these challenges. She went on to say, “It taught me the importance of family connection and respect for others around me”.

She also advises that when you feel you’ve lost your sense of belonging, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to find your balance again.

Visiting Palestine as a teenager, Aminah often felt like a “caged bird”, as she was denied the access into Jerusalem, her birth city, due to her identity. This experience only drove her further into being involved in projects that aimed at liberating the people of Palestine.

She stated that, “The caged bird feeling only made me realize how others actually living in Palestine didn't have the privilege I had to leave the way I did. This experience only drove me further by being more involved in organizing, investing, and building projects that support my people who dream of seeing a liberated Palestine. A liberated Palestine where we no longer have to face discrimination, are given human rights, and are never denied exploring our homeland”.

Our Favorite Questions

What were your dreams as a child? “As a child, I always had this gut feeling that I was born for a greater purpose. The idea of empathy was embedded into my mind as I was always considerate of others around me. Even something as small as offering the last piece of my meal to another or giving up my seat to someone who needs it, helping others is always on my mind. This realization led me to believe that my purpose was to leave behind a legacy that would impact the livelihood of others in need. I can proudly say that with PaliRoots, I am seeing all that I have worked to manifest as a child has come to life. Today, I dream of building more projects that tackle other social issues affecting our Palestinian people” What is your secret recipe for a successful life? “To have a successful life, all you really need is to understand the power of your choices. Your choices are what pave your journey so choose the bricks very wisely. Choose your friends who prioritize you the way you do them, choose to maintain balance when you feel off-centered, choose to do things that will keep you happy, and choose to eliminate someone or something that does not benefit your journey to success.” What or who inspired you to become the person you are today? “I am grateful to be surrounded by many people who inspire me daily. However, it's not the people but instead the conversations I've had with them that inspire me most. It also has taught me a lot about myself. I've learned that I am a healer, because what makes me most happy is the act of service I provide for others in need. I am also grateful to be surrounded by visionaries and dreamers who openly share and trust me with their ideas selflessly”. Is there anything more you’d like to share? “I believe the secret to achieving a peaceful world is to all teachings around empathy. If we lived in a world where we were all considerate of others and put ourselves in the shoes of others, we would live in a world where providing acts of service to those who are struggling would be something we will always prioritize over things like wealth and power.”

“It is common that we all at some point in our lifetime lose our sense of belonging while struggling with mental health and wellness. However, what is most important is whether you choose to find your balance again and the steps you take to do that” – Aminah Musa, Co-Founder of PaliRoots.

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