I am tired of holding my breath.
Before I click on links.
I’m tired whispering
“Please don’t let it be one of us”
Sighing gratefully when it isn’t
Sighing stress filled when it is.
Every time there is a major shooting, nay, a terrorist attack, I have to literally make dua’a. Pray that the shooter isn’t Muslim. That they aren’t Black, or Latinx, or any other minority. Whenever there is a shooting I know that every person like me has this same fear.
I knew who committed the Vegas terrorist attack before I even opened the article. The headline said it all, “Lone Wolf Shooter”. Every person with sense knows what that means. When a crime is committed by any community of color we know the drill.If they are black: they were a thug, into drugs, grew up in a “broken home”, black on black crime. They are always huge and hulking; even if they were small and scrawny. If they are Muslim: they are radical, part of a terrorist organization, jihadist. The whole Muslim community is dragged out and asked to respond. If they are Latinx: they are illegal, gangs, drugs, they are part of an organized crime group. Immediately we have to talk about immigration; even if they are born here. In all cases their whole families are scrutinized. They find the most damning pictures of them. All of our communities are at fault.
But when they are white they are always loners. Mentally ill. Not part of society. Their families aren’t drug through the mud. The photo they use is the happiest and most clean cut they can find. They are always innocent; even after the fact.
When the Pulse Nightclub shooting happened last year, I came to work feeling very numb. My cousin happened to be down in Florida at the time and we hadn’t heard from her. I was exhausted. I logged into my work email and had a message from a colleague “When was the Muslim Office going to put out their statement?” I literally had a fit at my desk. I wanted to write him back but I didn’t. I had already written a letter to my community and the greater University community that I was getting ready to send. But his demand for a statement was really a demand for an apology. A demand that “my people better say something because this is our fault”. I was livid. No white man ever has to come out and apologize for whiteness, Christianity etc. when a white man commits a heinous crime. No white Christian ever has to come on the news and say, “This isn’t us. This isn’t our faith.” White people are given the ability to represent only them. They never represent their communities. I wanted to email my colleague back and ask him when was his letter coming out about Charleston, or Sandy Hook, or anything else for that matter?
This recent shooting has cemented for me a feeling, a desire I have been having for a while. I am no longer responding, apologizing, explaining when someone of my community does something heinous. I am no longer saying, “This is not Islam.” Or, “This doesn’t represent us.” I’m not arguing with people on the internet or saying things on anyone’s behalf. I know that the crime of another doesn’t represent us all. So why do I have to constantly explain that when some groups don’t have to? Why do I have to carry all of the crimes of people I have never and will never meet? From now on, I won’t. From now on, the only thing I will do is pray for those affected. From now on, this West Indian, Latinx, Indigenous, Muslim woman will be living her life like a straight White Christian man.