I have been avoiding this post all week.
Even now, it’s the 11th hour of my self-imposed deadline for posting every Tuesday.
Today marks 17 years since the terrorist attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon. A lot of people died and the nation mourned. Social media has been pages of scrolling through American flags and “Never forget.” We remember exactly where we were, what we were feeling and thinking, the exact minutiae of the moment we saw the news and our entire day. But many of the testimonies I’ve read today remember a moment of ‘togetherness’ in our country’s history, the likes we have not seen since.
But that is only one side of the story.
There are many whose memories are not of solidarity. In fact, within hours or even minutes, it became feelings of alienation with one clear message, “You do not belong here.”
When many Muslims, Indians, southeast Asians, hijabis returned to school or work, colleagues and classmates who had never been anything but kind and respectful turned to suspicion and fear. “So where exactly are you from, again?” “Why were your parents in New York City that day?”
How many Muslims became the scapegoats? Hell, how many brown folks have suffered discrimination and hate crimes because of and since 9/11? Who among them are still being persecuted?
The answer is many, if not most. Why?
I’m not negating anyone else’s experience of this horrible tragedy. I am simply asking you to widen your view. Can we mourn together? And do better, together.
How can we do better?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.