I used to think that each and every form of oppression was unique. A Muslim faced Islamophobia strictly because of their religion, and this form of oppression was independent of any other form. Same with any other form of oppression. Every single one was independent, and driven by something entirely unique.
A few months ago, I was having a discussion with a group of my friends about racism within minority communities. All three were fully accepted as minorities where as I have never been accepted by minorities or the elite. I have always been different. Too dark to fit with the elite and too light to fit with minority groups. At the time the point I was trying to make is that racism and other forms of injustice exist within those groups. I was saying how I had suffered in the hands of African American's, Latino's and Asians at one point or another, as much or even more so than the white elite. At the time one of the friends mentioned that racism can not truly exist on a personal level and has to be more on a systemic level. So I argued that in other countries racism and Colorism exist on a systemic level. I could not comprehend a world where the injustice I have felt and the pain inflicted upon me by those groups would not be called racism, sexism, and everything else. But over the last few months I have started seeing the systemic oppression all around us. And the more I get into it the more lost I become, but at the same time closer to the light. Racism is systemic in nature because it benefits a certain group of individuals. When you look at all the forms of injustice you see that regardless of what their form they always benefit the same group. We are capable of carrying hate, contempt and even outright disgust by groups of people and/or their actions, but unless you are that elite group you are not racist, Islamophobic, homophobic or any of the others. This of course does not take away from the gravity of you having these beliefs and even acting on their behalf, but unless you're the beneficiary of those things you are not them. You are many things. You are hateful, and un-compassionate, but you are something else.
A few days ago we lost fifty lives. Fifty. I want to take a moment and strip the sentence from all the nouns from the event and focus on the action and it's very simple. Fifty individuals were shot. There's a verse in the Quran that says whomever kills a person it's as if they have killed all of mankind. I'm not saying that to use it as proof once we bring in the nouns but I'm using it as the reality that I see. Many of us can almost feel every single one of those lives. We can almost feel the bullets going through us, the anguish, the pain, but we are still breathing and they are not so we mourn instead. But it doesn't take away from the fact that it's almost as if we had all been killed.
As activists we must live difficult lives. We feel the pain that the world feels almost better than anyone, and yet we do not give ourselves the time to mourn. For we must act. We must speak up and attempt to heal the world at the time when the world does not want to be healed. But the world is a masochist and it has never wanted to be healed. It was never ready. The world was not ready for the end of slavery or women to gain their rights. No group has ever been ready to change entirely like we want the world to. I bring this up because people that we politicize every tragedy. That we feed into it like vampires or something. But the reality is that everything is so connected that most often those tragedies are consequences of the things we bring up on a daily basis. Last week I discussed patriarchy in two different posts about sexual assault and violence committed by men. Ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not this is very connected. To the point that if you re-read that post it's almost as if I was predicting it'd happen. No, not predicting, because predicting implies that there's a chance it won't happen, but unfortunately for those of us that speak about systemic oppression we know better. We know that until we act these things will continue to happen. We pray and hope with everything we have that we are wrong, but the world is too cruel to give us our one wish.
I say these things because when you bring in the adjectives you hear a Muslim man killed fifty individuals that identify as LGBTQIA. I identify as an Ally. I am a part of that group. And I am a Muslim. The media and those that don't know better would have you think that this is a Muslim vs. LGBTQIA members. But when you look at Homophobia systemically you know that a Muslim is not part of the elite who will benefit from the rise of both homophobia and Islamophobia. A Muslim, or any other minority may reach for privilege, they may be filled with hate, and they may be many things, but they are not the root of this problem. The root is the same systemic problem that turns good people against one another and murders us by the millions, be it by fueling wars, terrorism in all its forms including mass shootings and so much more.
My heart is broken by this tragedy, and I pray that the victims find peace and justice. I pray that their families are supported and can rise above this. I condemn this and every other attack that has structurally been designed to break us. I am devastated. I am overwhelmed. And sometimes I wonder if the problem has gotten so bad between all of us that there is no going back. I wonder if the forms of oppression allowed to minority groups so that they may destroy one another are too deep and we can't swim our way back up. I wonder these things. I lose hope. I lose faith in humanity. But I know that unless we try things will most definitely not get better and no matter the possibility of failure, the slim chance that we can succeed is worth it.
I know these words are not easy to digest. And I apologize if I offended anyone, or misspoke in any way shape or form. I am still learning. I am a student of life that has newly been introduced into a world that has control us for hundreds of years. If I misspoke please let me know, for I am eager to learn from each and every one of you and hope that you will join me in fighting for that 2% chance of success.
I will hold on to the 2%, always reminding myself that any act of love and compassion, whether to ourselves or to others, is a form of resistance against Systemic oppression and Injustice.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder and Director of Mental Health for MCL, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter or facebook.