“When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse.”
~Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Nonviolence as Compliance”
Let me begin with dismissing the progressivism, idealism, and warm, cloying optimism which seems to have enamored so many people to the point where they cease to be able to discern any semblance of reality from the most abstract and whimsical of science fiction or fantasy. I believe our nation suffers from – among other things – an acute case of split personality syndrome: one the hand, we are inculcated with the myths of American Exceptionalism, personal liberty, the agency to pursue our dreams through an almost divine relationship between quasi-laissez-faire capitalism and economic and social liberalism, the American Dream, as it were; and yet, on the other hand, we can (hopefully) see there are classes of people and individuals – racial minorities, religious minorities (less so if they are rich and White-looking, I claim), homosexuals, the impoverished, the mentally handicapped, etc. – who are not only neither given the chance nor agency to participate in this myth but are also often the victims of the state sponsored violence and terrorism employed to preserve the myth for others, the American Nightmare, as it were. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide; it’s like the iconic villain Two-Face from Batman: an inconsistent duality clothed in religious and patriotic rhetoric. The very dreams and the promises which uplifts some becomes the horrors and poisons for others.
The state security apparatus unjustly murdering, torturing, slandering, and incarcerating Black men and women without provocation or just cause is nothing new to the history of America. Freddie Gray is no stranger to me. Nor is Trayvon Martin. Nor is Tamir Rice. Nor is Eric Garner. Nor is Rekia Boyd. Nor is (insert an other Black person, male or female, killed by the police or incarcerated for crimes which they did not commit). Strange, then, it is to me, as a Black American, that I should hear from so many people, non-Black Muslims included and perhaps especially, that they were unaware of such happenings. Strange, then, it is to me, as a Black American, one her Native Sons, that a nation which owes a group of people so much for its very existence and for the production of valuable and invaluable capital – monetary, cultural, artistic, religious (Christianity and Islam) – should be blissfully unaware and unfazed with the abuses of the state. Strange, then, it is to me, as a Black American, that people could sit on their couches and in their suburban churches and in their suburban masajid (pl. form masjid, “mosques”) and not only watch those cities burn but blame the victims and protestors and even the looters, as if they killed a man for no reason. Strange, then, it is to me, as a Black American, that people should be surprised when the “chickens come home to roost.”
I will say this equivocally and without pretense. In America, Black lives DO NOT matter. Our lives DO NOT matter. In America, they NEVER truly have mattered, and they NEVER truly will matter. That we should ALWAYS be told to remain “calm and peaceful” while those who were given the responsible and power to “serve and protect” commit such brutality and injustice is proof enough for me. That I can hear news anchors to turn a blind eye to the protest in favor of the Red Carpet is proof enough for me. That I can hear some non-Black Muslims saying, “We shouldn’t pray for Black America because they’re (insert any Arabic or Urdu pejorative term you wish. “Kafir” is a good one and one I’ve seen before)” is proof enough for me. If there was any doubt as to the veracity of this truth, now, that doubt has been effaced. The message has been made clear to me, clear as crystal.
O Allah, I pray our lives matter to You…because they don’t appear to matter to others. May Allah reparate Black America in this world and next…because no one else is going to do so.