someone i love, someone who’s older than me (and who will remain unnamed) made a comment the other day to me. i don’t remember how the topic arose, but at some point, s/he said, “well yeah, it’s like the muslims in the middle east.” and what s/he was referring to, in the context of the conversation, was terrorists. not muslims, but terrorists.
i paused and tried to gather my thoughts; i didn’t want to just lose it on the spot. but i needed to address it. eventually, i said, “you don’t mean ‘muslims.’” s/he kind of looked at me, with an unspoken yes i do.
"no, you don’t. you mean terrorists. you mean people who’ve killed people, who’ve made nations (not just our own) afraid. yes?"
s/he said, “well, yes, but all of those people are muslims.”
i gritted my teeth.
this is a person who is very nearly three times my age. this is a person who considers themselves invested in politics, in the current events happening in the world. this is a person who, if you ever asked, would say that s/he is absolutely not prejudiced. this is a person who would not protest if their child brought home a boy/girlfriend who was asian or black. and that’s what kills me.
i need you to believe (if you are reading this) that this person is a genuinely good-hearted human being. s/he is ignorant without being aware of it. and that’s literally the definition of white privilege.
i wasn’t just going to let it sit. as much as i truly respect this person, s/he was very very wrong. i said, no. have you ever been friends with a muslim? s/he said no, s/he hadn’t.
i said the muslim religion is, in its very conception and definition, peaceful. it is a beautiful religion, and the people who commit crimes in the name of islam are the extremists. they are sick. are they muslim? sure. but their actions do not spring from their religion, they spring from hatred and illness. s/he didn’t respond.
i continued to talk. i said that lumping the terrorists into the umbrella category of “muslim” is like blaming the entire christian religion on the atrocities that the westboro baptist church commits. s/he interjected, “yes, but if they did do something, then i bet christians would be blamed for it.”
no. no no no no no. it’s like caucasian acts of terrorism in america. we look at those people and say, “what went wrong?” when a person of color commits a crime, the reaction is 110% different. when is the last time christianity, or even catholicism, has been blamed like that? it hasn’t. no.
"don’t call those extremists ‘muslim’", i finally pleaded. "call them ‘terrorists from the middle east’, call them ‘extremists’, call them anything else. don’t call them muslims."
s/he apologized. i don’t know if s/he really really understood. but i think the fact that a twenty-year-old got really up in arms about it made him/her at least think about it. s/he promised to change his/her terminology.
this is the problem. this is the biggest problem. it’s white people who are prejudiced without knowing, who are ignorant and who don’t realize they’re ignorant. they lump people together— it’s ‘whites’ vs ‘everybody else’— and they aren’t informed. i hope that changes. i hope that i at least made this person, this person whom i love so dearly, think about all of it. i hope s/he will pick up a book about it someday. i hope s/he will meet a muslim who has had to live in post 9/11 america (and i’m appalled by the fact that s/he doesn’t know a muslim) and realize how horribly, horribly wrong s/he was.
I was looking for my brother at the airport so I asked a worker to announce his name over the loudspeaker. Apparently, she thought his Asian last name was too hard to pronounce so she decided to have a little fun and asked for justin bieber instead (my brother’s name is justin). Seriously?!
wait i think you told me this
but hoLY FUCK WHY
people are the worst