Social media pages being flooded with hateful rhetoric, women in pink hats, babies holding picket signs that they don’t know the meaning of. I haven’t been able to gather my thoughts since November 8th, 2016. I have been avoiding reality. I claim that this is my “coping method.”
Almost a week ago, I practiced even more evasion when the reality I have been trying so hard to sprint away from, was right in front of my eyes. Loud and clear. A man (I use that term very loosely), with no political background, no sense of morality or humanity, but an immense sense of privilege (white male privilege to be exact), was named the “45th president of the United States.” I’m just as sick and tired of hearing about all of this nonsense as the next person, but we all must speak our peace at least once, for our own sake.
I am not afraid. I am disappointed, and feel cheated. I feel like the very place that I call home, truly let me down. I feel that the American public, generally, doesn’t care and doesn’t have the patience to really see the blood that’s right in front of their eyes. It’s easy to believe that America is the “greatest nation.” It’s easy to go ahead and be complacent and believe that the recent president elect will do “good” for our country, regardless of his racist, ignorant, hateful rhetoric that fueled his campaign. It’s easy to support someone who tells you what you should and should not believe instead of thinking for yourself. That’s all far too easy.
“I am not afraid. I am disappointed, and feel cheated.”
Of course, those that were let down (Muslims, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, women) are the ones who will take an immediate stance against the injustice that reins over their lives. We’re the ones who have to pick up the pieces and conjure up any sense of hope left that this is not what this nation is about. When joining forces against oppression and standing with one another in solidarity, we must understand how to effectively stand together. This means, yes, protesting and pushing back on legislations that threaten our livelihoods and the livelihoods of our brothers and sisters abroad. It also means vocalizing (aka spilling the chai…wink, wink), and not remaining silent as those who think they can decide on the ways in which we choose to live, implement sanctions against our basic freedoms. What it does not mean is wasting time and energy distracting from the purpose of the cause. What it does not mean is wearing a hijab in “solidarity” with Muslim women. What it does not mean is waving around a picket sign of a Muslim woman donned in an American flag hijab who also suspiciously has extremely euro-centric features. I know all of this was meant with good intent and outcome, but it’s better to dissect and reflect on the messages these actions and images are sending out. I’m sure a majority of people see wearing the hijab in solidarity as a good thing to do because it somehow shows that Muslim women aren’t alone. I love this effort, however it kind of does nothing to actually aid Muslim women. If you want to know what a Muslim woman experiences living in America, then talk to a Muslim woman living in America. Protect and amplify their voices, and give them a respectful platform to be heard. Don’t drown out their lived experiences with your attempts at trying to live it for them and then talking about it on your behalf after you take your solidarity hijab off at the end of the day. It’s all about just taking a moment to be conscious about our roles in solidarity before we take action. Muslim women have been at the forefront of hate crimes, Islamophobic rhetoric, and racial profiling. It’s unfortunate that being vilified in such violent ways is not something new to Muslims. People just need to hear us out in what we’ve been shouting all along.
“If you want to know what a Muslim woman experiences living in America, then talk to a Muslim woman living in America.”
Information was recently released that this administration (I refuse to even write out the name), are actually planning to sign orders on a Muslim immigration ban, a border wall, and even something called a torture bill. How can you even proudly stand behind something that’s called the “torture bill?” I digress. I cannot even find the words within myself to adequately express my thoughts on all of this. I am fully aware of the immense corruption that the Bush and Obama administrations have put out on Muslim peoples let alone people of color, both domestic and abroad, but this takes everything to a whole new level. If the Bush and Obama administrations were capable of succeeding in passing legislations such as the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay, then I don’t even want to know what’s to come. If I learned anything from being a Media Studies major in college, it was that fear is the ultimate tool in controlling a people. Creating any type of fear within a community will lead to a complacent society that is unable to actively use their minds because they are afraid. We cannot afford to sit silently and watch this all happen to us and our families abroad. Even if simply vocalizing what is right is all you can do, then do it. Social activism should not be a competition. Do what you are able to do to help. They are making all of the peoples efforts to resist this regime as acts of violence rather than rightful protest. While they are the ones legalizing the real violence like denying people healthcare and a right to choose. We will not remain complacent. We will not be overwhelmed by fear. We will stand with one another strongly and respectfully against the inhumane injustices that this administration is attempting to make “legal.” They have no right over us.
“…fear is the ultimate tool in controlling a people.”
I am not afraid. This administration may be taking all of the actions they need to completely annihilate any sense of freedom in our lives, but I am not afraid. I am not afraid because I know the power we have as human beings. To rise up and push back against power-hungry, oppressive regimes is in our nature, if only we use our minds to tactfully organize and execute. This administration may be implementing bans on groups of people, they may be passing laws that take away a woman’s choice and safety, they may be in denial about global climate change as a serious issue, and they may be completely persecuting and defaming all media outlets and individuals who speak the truth, but I am still not afraid. I refuse to be. If you ask me, they are the ones who are afraid. They want us to be living in fear in order to gain total control. It’s a shame that we are living in a constant “us vs. them,” ideology. Fear is not even an option here. They will plan, but they will not win.