Friday, September 9, 2011

From Ground Zero With Love

It's proper to send light to the families, partners and friends who lost their loved ones on 9/11. And it's even more proper to take a min to honor the innocent who didn't leave world trade center in time. But let's also keep in mind that 9/11 also means remembering how White America unleashed her hatred for 'different' right after the twins fell. We had a mayor, already famous for his racist jargon and policies, who used the unfortunate event to spew his political agenda and a President who encouraged division. When Bush told America "you're either with us or against us", it gave racist Whites permission to take their misguided rage on innocent muslim americans and anyone perceived as not being 'american' enough. I was just moving back to nyc from nc where trigger happy southern Whites were putting U.S. flags on their cars and trucks, on their porches and wife-beaters. I remember the language of hate that was taking over the magnolia air and one of my neighbors, an African American muslim woman who was forced to move out of her house cos she refused to stop wearing her abaya. and I remember the term 'terrorist' being thrown around by even some american Blacks who had somehow forgotten how the united states came to be, in the first place.

By the time I reached the gw bridge, NYC was in a total depression and Tribeca was the last neighborhood anyone wanted to live in, what with the fallout from all the debris and scattered body parts. This wasn't another sequel to Die Hard. This was real. And you could tell that White America, especially, was experiencing shock from a loud global wake up call. But most European Americans tend to be in denial about reality checks, either from miseducation or a plain unwillingness to admit that they benefit from racism. So rather than consider historical karma, the majority of them got caught up in the blame game except some like Scottish-American author, Jason Trask (I'm still learning to stop using colors to describe persons without sounding like a research scientist). I guess you can call my buddy a liberal, if we're looking for a box to fit him in. Some people need boxes and categories when choosing their music. But I'd rather call Jason a socially conscious citizen of the world, besides my best friend. He didn't get jumped or called names, or was forced to move his wife and kids to a safe zone. But he had to endure ignorant, paranoid neighbors and co-workers who called him a communist for refusing to put up a U.S. flag at his own doorstep. He was even called in by his supervisor to explain his unusual 'foreign' behavior. I grew up in Montreal, so I know about White on White isms. In Quebec, the beef was over language, not skin color. So I wasn't surprised at all that his own tribe was getting ready to light that torch on his ass! But for whatever reason, they let him live. That's if, of course, calling someone a crazy liberal is letting them live.

While Jason was standing up for his american rights, my mother was being harassed by her White neighbor for not putting up her U.S. flag. If you know anything about haitian immigrants from the Duvalier/Papa Doc days, you already understand why my mother allowed the woman to stick a flag on her window as proof of her loyalty to the good U.S. of A. And if you know me well enough by now, you're absolutely correct in assuming I ripped that damn thing off my mama's window and told the old bat what she can do with her pride! Cos for most African Americans, the American flag is a symbol of contradictions. Like an uncle who molested you when you were a child but is now paying for your college tuition.
Come 9/12, we'll all go back to our everyday lives. We'll forget all the speeches made my the politicians, all the recited names of those gone, all the hype about being as one and resume to being the fragmented society we really are; fragmented by skin shade, income status, languages, gender, sexuality, religion, voting ballots and move on to Halloween candies and masks. Mattofact, Columbus Day's coming around soon, and no one will stop to ask why we gave the original terrorist his own holiday? or more immediate, why homeland security isn't profiling men who look like timothy mcveigh since he's the one who bombed us six years prior to 9/11? Why po-po still focuses on me and anyone else who looks like me? but we'll move on, ignoring such questions and pretend we all get along; that we all are glad that president obama finally said the bad words-- "The unemployment rate for African American youth is the highest". But if there's a slightest part of you that rejects the pomp and circumstance and is willing to gain a more inclusive definition of what it is to be an american, checkout Jason's book, I'm Not Muhammad. It's a story about not only what went down in downtown NYC in 2001, but also about what brings all of us together, as opposed to apart.

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