Waiting for the Hope that'll never come
Trigger Warning: White Supremacy in Action.
This article was written a few weeks ago, but with everything going on in Charlottesville, it seemed right to publish it now.
As I woke up this morning, I turned to email and facebook like I normally do. One of the first things I saw was an article about a white man receiving three mistrials for shooting his daughter's unarmed black boyfriend. The article gave me pause. I told myself as sarcastically as possible "Happy Wednesday". It's just another day in the United States. A few weeks ago, the verdict for Philando Castille's murder was declared, a new video was released, Nabra was murdered, and many other things, all making it pretty obvious; Black Lives Do Not Matter. Most lives do not matter, in a Racist household like ours. The thing that gets me, that surprises me every time, is that we're still not numb to it all.
We like to believe that we are numb, that we've seen so many People of Color and other minorities brutality murdered by White Supremacist law enforcement and White Supremacists in general that we can no longer truly care. We watch these videos, of people literally being murdered, and if we weren't numb to it it'd affect us more. If we weren't numb, it'd have an effect on our daily lives, and we wouldn't let it go.
But it does have an effect on our daily life. I'm not black, but I know when a Police Officer is nearby, I am terrified. I am terrified that they will pull me over and find out my name, my foreignness, and my religion, and pull a weapon at me again, or worse. This isn't a fear of death, as I have written about before. This is a fear of Oppression even after our deaths, click to read more. Again, this is nothing compared to what Black People have to live with everyday.
Sure, sometimes, like with this morning's article, it might feel like it's just another Wednesday here. But as much as I want to push it away, I know it will rise to meet me in a few hours, in a few days...
And we're not letting it go. We are marching, protesting, doing everything that we believe we can for Justice, but you can't gain justice in a system that doesn't know what Justice is; a system that never built a definition of Justice for POC and minorities.
We're not numb to it, because every time the system fails us again, and again, and again, it hurts so bad. And you know this is true, based on the reactions on social media, or lack thereof from certain individuals. We saw it in the Trevor Noah video - about the verdict and how it was heartbreaking. Yes, it's heartbreaking, because we still have hope. We have hope that someone, somewhere, along the system will rise and give us Justice. We see this with all kinds of hate crimes; crimes that are constantly relabeled as 'Parking disputes', 'road rage', and even 'suicide'. And every time we wait for a different outcome.
The reality is that we are waiting for a system that was not built for us, to be there for us. The moment we stop waiting is the moment, we lose hope in the system. We lose hope in every social construct holding our lives together. And it is so much easier to hold on to hope for a broken system than it is to realize that that system is not broken at all. Protests and marches work for a broken system, but revolutions are needed to build new systems. And revolutions are a lot of work. Revolutions require us to reevaluate every aspect of our lives and to radically change. And change is terrifying.
So, since we don't want to change, and don't want to do the work, we continue believing in the same system that is oppressing us. This is why the majority of individuals do not believe that the system is working perfectly. Every community is different, but this is definitely within the Muslim community. We still have hope that we will someday be pleasantly surprised by the system.
That hope will only lead to furthering our pain. With that said, it does not mean that we should be hopeless. We should create our own hope in overthrowing these systems and building better ones. Systemic oppression is not infinite as it'd like us to believe, Oppression must always come to an end. We can end this. We can build hope to rebuild our world, one that's meant for all of us, and not just one small group.
I normally like to end my articles with a few tips about the topic. At first, my mind blanked and I went to my Hopeless place and thought 'There's nothing anyone can do'. But that is not true. Here are five things that I have done to do everything I can to keep it together, because some days that's all you can do:
1) Find people that GET IT, and create a support system around them. Normally I'd say just create a support system, but you need Social Justice Warriors(SJW) that fully understand what you're going through. Support them, and allow them to support you. This does not mean that anyone else in your life is irrelevant, not at all. My support system is built with both SJW and individuals that barely touch social justice, but when hope is dwindling due to systemic oppression, the support I need can not come from individuals that are withdrawn from the battle.
2) Create Social Justice Goals for yourself and your community. Having a goal allows you to measure your success instead of being overwhelmed with overthrowing systems that are held together by billions of individuals and far more money than we can imagine. Make your goals attainable and work towards communal uprisings and revolutions.
3) Remember that you are NOT alone. Every time I am overwhelmed by systemic oppression, I notice that five other friends are also overwhelmed by it. Reach out when you're overwhelmed. We're stronger with larger numbers. Let's come together and fix shit.
4) Understand that you come first. This may sound ridiculous considering how large of a problem we're facing, but if you're not here then none of the work you could've done gets done. We need you, long term. This is not a one day battle. We are ALL needed to fight this.
5) Support Organizations. WE can not do this alone, and just like we need support from others they will need support from us. Not only that, make sure you're support Grassroots organizations that are creating change. On days you don't think you can go on, remember that any sustaining contribution you make allows these organizations to continue the work. Even when you're taking time off for yourself, you are making a difference.
It's time for us to give up hope in Oppressive systems and begin building hope in revolutions to overthrow these systems.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days. An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.