Mazi Tazazo was born in Sudan en route to Israel. She recounts her parents preparing her brothers and her for their arrival in Israel with the following words: "There will be those who will call you all kinds of names and there will be those who will put obstacles in your way. This is to be expected because there were not many Ethiopians in Israel. Just remember that it's only a matter of time until they get used to the new color and the most important solution lies in your hands – fit in, don't look the easy way out and get an education – that's the tool with which you'll prevail."
Mazi did as her parents instructed; she joined the military and served as an observation post commander in Rafah. When she finished her military service, she got a degree in law and business administration from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and went on to work for a well-known law firm.
Recently, Mazi decided to focus on real estate development and together with another young attorney, Efrat Hinitz, established Eitanut – a joint venture for the management of projects in the National Outline Plan 38 for building reinforcement.
I first met Mazi Tazazo when she was a student and had the great pleasure of following her sweet, Hollywood-like success story. However, Mazi Tazazo is not resting on her laurels; last week, she visited the reportedly racism-ridden community of Kiryat Malachi and was appalled by attempts on the part of several neighborhood committees to get flat owners in the city to avoid the selling or renting of flats to people who look like her.
She was also dismayed to see that most of the protestors at the demonstration held in response were people who looked like her. Mazi wants Israelis of all colors and races to fight racism. She hopes the demonstration scheduled for next week in Tel Aviv will have a massive turnout.
Racism did not abate
Mazi fears that her parents might have been wrong after all. Racism did not abate as time went by; rather, it changed its face. Mazi is indignant with the "Unscrupulous, ignorant and cowardly people who insisted that my friend, who has a prefect Israeli accent, come for a job interview because she seemed perfectly qualified for the job but they saw the 'horrifying sight' in the office lobby, sent her home in the pretext that the interviewer is busy and they don’t have vacancies at the moment because the position has already been filled and that they apologize for the inconvenience."
She has already planned what she is going to say to you, to us, at the demonstration in Tel Aviv: "I hope there will be those who stand shoulder to shoulder with me, and at times instead of me, to put in their place all those racist and heartless people who reduced me to tears while callously judging me by the color of my skin and separated me from my friends as I they banned me from entering a night club."
There are 120,000 Ethiopians living in Israel today, a third of which were born here. There are more than a few organizations that have been supporting the Ethiopian community for years. There are well-intentioned people who occasionally speak up against racism. But it seems that new winds are blowing in the community; determined, talented and fearless youngsters the likes of Mazi Tazazo and Molet Araro – the student from the "United Ethiopians'" movement who has begun his march last week from his Kiryat Malachi home to the demonstration site at the Knesset in Jerusalem and who is calling on his friends to join the large political parties – have come to realize that they will have to stand at the forefront of change.
They believe in themselves. Let's give them a hand.
The article was originally published by Calcalist: