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Sunday, September 11, 2011

What is a post-9/11 American?

Despite declarations of national solidarity, reconciliation across lines of race and religion took a severe beating after September 11, 2001. We proclaimed ourselves part of a unified nation, but it seems there was a limit to our goodwill toward each other.

Diversity, but only to a point
More than ever, the United States is hostile to those perceived to be foreigners. Regardless of actual citizenship, people of color are routinely targeted as 'others,' not truly rightful members of our society. Particularly, harassment and discrimination against Arabic, South Asian, and Latino citizens has escalated over the past 10 years (both by law enforcement and by individuals).

We say we are 'proud to be an American,' but what do we mean by that? Who do we include with ourselves in that statement? Are we proud to include turban-covered heads in our company's TV ad?  Or proud to include Spanish on our voicemail systems?

When we proclaim in memorial services that 'all our lives were forever changed by the events of 9/11,' do we consider the lives that now fear daily unjust retribution for those events?

Take a look at some of the videos posted at Racialicous that give testimony to these fears. People speak of the unity that complete strangers had with one another after the towers came down, but as Shawn Singh notes, it was "only after 9/11 did I feel less of a camaraderie with my peers." We hear in the media about Muslim women being pressured to wear the hijab, but Rabia Said recalls her friend's parents begging their child not to wear it for fear of violence against her.

Seeks Blacks and Latinos,
 but not Sikhs
Many of us can take our characterization as 'American' for granted, but millions (including the President) must defend and prove it everyday.

Too many well-intentioned commentators will remind us that 'both Americans and Muslims lost lives on 9/11,' as though these are necessarily two separate entities. We perpetually entwine the term 'Muslim' with 'foreigner', otherizing and alienating our allies.

As we reflect on consequences of 9/11, allow me to leave you with the following verse for your meditation:

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a sister or brother is a liar. For whoever does not love their sister and brother, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their sister and brother." 1 John 4:18-21
What does 1 John 4:18-21 mean to you? What practical effect does it have on how you conduct yourself in your interactions with others?

1 comment:

  1. An excellent example from Abagond:


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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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