Photo by: syabab indonesia. Flickr Cc By 2.0

Last September, days after the anniversary of 9/11, Nina Davuluri, the Indian-American ‘Miss New York’, was crowned Miss America. The aftermath:

Racism and bigotry—have we ever discussed, ruminated about, or acted against it?

When we glance inside our own heads, can we be certain that we are not, in fact, contributors to the problem? Addressing racism is often unsettling, which may be the reason why so many Americans opt to ignore the problem, avoiding the ‘r’ word altogether. The media has done too well a job planting seeds within our minds, creating prejudiced views within a blink of an eye. African-Americans in baggy clothes shown through mug shots and behind guns as if it were their natural habitat. Muslims donning beards and bombs, as if one implies the other, destroying lives in the name of Allah. Women in veils depicted as if oppressed by a domineering and patriarchal religion. But African-Americans are not barbarians, and true Muslims, regardless of gender, embody peace—the core virtue of Islam.

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense as Martin was on his way home in Sanford, FL, armed with a bag of skittles and iced tea. He was 17 years old, an African-American student at Michael Krop High School. One month later on March 21st, Shaima Alawadi was beat to death inside her home and left next to a note that read, “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist.” She was a 32-year-old mother of five who had left her country, Iraq, with her family following the Shiite uprisings, in hopes of finding peace in El Cajon, CA. These two now-lifeless Americans represent the true victims of America’s inherent racism and prejudice.

We must then think to ourselves: what was their crime—the color of their skin (i.e. their darker than white complexions), their ethnicity, their beliefs?—and when will the hate end.

A hate crime may stem from a number of matters, such as sexual orientation, gender, religion, mental and physical disability, racial group, or ethnicity/origin. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 5,790 single-bias incidents of hate crimes in 2012. 48.3 percent of them were motivated by racial bias, 19 percent by religious bias and 11.5 percent by ethnicity/national origin bias. 78.8 percent—nearly 80 percent of hate crimes are motivated by the appearances, backgrounds, and beliefs of others. It should be duly noted that these are only the hate crimes that have been reported and do not account for the ones left unseen.

The first amendment promises no jurisdiction over religion and the Civil Rights Act proclaims that “citizens, of every race and color… shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States… as is enjoyed by white citizens.” Yet it is saddening how both religion and race are the basis for so much hate in every State and Territory in the United States, to this day. In 2001, after the horrific events of 9/11, “anti-Islamic religion incidents… became the second highest reported among religious-bias incidents,” as stated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “growing by more than 1,600 percent over the 2000 volume.” Nearly twelve years later, we are still in the midst of Islamophobia.

However, Martin and Alawadi’s death sparked rallies and gatherings across the nation, starting as soon as March 25, 2012:

Students from various universities bore the title Hoodies and Hijabs across their chest and throughout their campuses not only for Martin and Alawadi, but to shed light on the proliferation of intolerance and hate in America and the justice that has not yet prevailed. These events grounded themselves in interfaith dialogue with students from various backgrounds and religious affiliations participating, all hooded and with hijab. Students from all walks of faith came together in solidarity for the racial and religious injustices that have continually affected lives throughout America’s history.

Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, is suspected for her murder, and her case may undoubtedly be one of domestic violence. However, Hoodies and Hijabs stands for those victims who go unnoticed every day. Those who are stuck in the dark corners of their isolation and left without a voice. My point, and the point of the hundreds of hooded hijabs, remains intact. In order to eliminate ignorance and bigotry in our country, we must come together and turn our individual voices into one loud, resounding roar. We do not have the luxury to wait for racism to make the first move—we must take action and acknowledge prejudice and hate the moment we see it, hear it, or even give in to it. It should not be the hijab or the hoodie but rather the choices we make that define who we are and determine where we end up in life.

It’s about time we learn to coexist, because terrorism has no name, no roots, and no color. Even if it had a name, it most certainly would not be Khan. Quite frankly, it would not be seen carrying a bag of skittles, either.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.

 


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.


12 COMMENTS

  1. How about not leaving out the part about Shaima Alawadi not being beaten to death by an Islamophobe but by her own husband who tried to make it look like an anti-Muslim hate crime. You are despicable for spreading lies and portraying Muslims as victims. Shame on you for your taqiyya.

    • The murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi instigated the Hoodies and Hijabs campaign. The facts behind both murders are listed–Martin was shot in his neighborhood and Alawadi was beat to death in her home next to a note. Also included are statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which reveal the rates of crimes affiliated with race, religion, and national background in America as of late. The Hoodies and Hijabs campaign is then introduced in order to display the beautiful gesture of solidarity across America that focused on interfaith dialogue and was in opposition to these hate crimes. It is clarified that Alawadi’s death may be due to domestic violence, since there is an ongoing trial against her husband. However, whether or not it was due to hate, her death evoked something wonderful–it brought Americans together in protest against racism and bigotry. This article is meant to comment on the larger picture; the Hoodies and Hijabs campaign is the kind of tolerance and solidarity that all of us Americans should have towards one another, regardless of race, gender, or faith.

      We appreciate your feedback.

      • Trayvon Martin attacked Zimmerman. Witnesses testified at the trial that Martin was on top of Zimmerman, beating him in the face, smashing his head against the sidewalk, and shouting, “Tonight you die!” Zimmerman shouted repeatedly for help. Nobody came to his aid. Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defence.

        By the way, Martin posted on his facebook page his favorite recipe for a drug cocktail called “lean”: Robitussin, Arizona Iced Tea …and Skittles.

        Your two examples are not really about the American racism, as you claimed, but about how the victimization lobby will use charges of racism to cover up crimes.

      • How nauseatingly disingenuous you are.

        This is what you wrote:
        “These two now-lifeless Americans represent the true victims of America’s inherent racism and prejudice.”

        This is what you did *not* write instead:
        “Even though Shaima Alawadi’s death was not due to racism and prejudice, but instead to her husband’s emulation of the example set by the illiterate thug, thief, slaver, mass murderer, and rapist of children who was the prophet of Islam named Muhammad, it nonetheless joined many people together in a feel-good attempt to obfuscate the true brutal and backward nature of Islam and so many of its adherents.

        Don’t you dare try to pretend that you didn’t make an error. Don’t you dare.

  2. “One month later on March 21st, Shaima Alawadi was beat to death inside her home and left next to a note that read, “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist.” She was a 32-year-old mother of five who had left her country, Iraq, with her family following the Shiite uprisings, in hopes of finding peace in El Cajon, CA. These two now-lifeless Americans represent the true victims of America’s inherent racism and prejudice….Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, is suspected for her murder, and her case may undoubtedly be one of domestic violence…”

    So her murder was not at all due to America’s inherent racism and prejudice but due to the domestic violence of her husband also a Muslim who basically framed innocent American infidels by making it a fake hate crime. You continue that false framing in this article only bringing up that it was her Muslim husband who murdered her toward the end of your article. You buried that inconvenient fact that it was not Islamophobia of infidels but domestic violence within the Muslim community resulted in her death. Why don’t you use her death to discuss domestic violence within the Muslim community instead of pushing a fake hate crime?

    • The murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi instigated the Hoodies and Hijabs campaign. The facts behind both murders are listed–Martin was shot in his neighborhood and Alawadi was beat to death in her home next to a note. Also included are statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which reveal the rates of crimes affiliated with race, religion, and national background in America as of late. The Hoodies and Hijabs campaign is then introduced in order to display the beautiful gesture of solidarity across America that focused on interfaith dialogue and was in opposition to these hate crimes. It is clarified that Alawadi’s death may be due to domestic violence, since there is an ongoing trial against her husband. However, whether or not it was due to hate, her death evoked something wonderful–it brought Americans together in protest against racism and bigotry. This article is meant to comment on the larger picture; the Hoodies and Hijabs campaign is the kind of tolerance and solidarity that all of us Americans should have towards one another, regardless of race, gender, or faith.

      We appreciate your feedback.

      • Except Alawadi was NOT a hate crime, it was a murder of a wife by a husband who pathetically tried to deflect by making it look like prejudice. Sorry but this is a dishonest article. This poster girl for a hate crime was a lie. You don’t do either actual victims of hate crimes or victims of domestic violence justice by pushing the false narrative of her murder being a hate crime. And putting the fact at the end of the article that instead her husband is on trial does not make it ok. Where is the hijabs campaign against domestic violence in the ummah now that her husband is on trial for her murder? Looks like her husband writing a fake note got her death attention that she otherwise would not have had if it had been known to be a domestic violence crime from the start. That does not say much about those who purport to care about her death.

  3. This article unfortunately follows the same tendentious path as other grievance mongers. In this case the author egregiously misuses the Shaima Alawadi case as evidence for American’s inherent racism. Even if there is a track record of racism among Americans, using this as an example is misleading and illogical. Indeed the author tells us later that the prime and only suspect in the Alawadi case is the victim’s own husband, who also likely fabricated the offensive message as a diversion. Unfortunately the press latched onto this story as a hate crime without any need to await for concrete evidence obtained from the ongoing investigation. Lastly there is no ‘Muslim’ race and Islam has adherents who encompass all varieties and shades of humanity.

    The Trayvon Martin case, while tragic, is less about racism than it was about two angry young men violently confronting each other over perceived threats each posed at the time they met. Let us recall that George Zimmerman is Hispanic with Indigenous South American and African ancestry, so this was not a racially motivated incident. The criminal investigation made abundantly clear that Zimmerman was not a racist and the only derogatory epithet known to have been used was by Martin, who referred to Zimmerman as “Creepy-ass cracker”, as recorded by the cell phone conversation with a friend at the time.

    I would suggest that this writer stop and think carefully about what she arbitrarily decides to label as racism and bigotry. High profile cases such as these always invite nasty comments from the public, but I missed the part where droves of White Americans took to the streets calling for lynchings of Blacks and deportation of Muslims based on these two examples. The author might do well to examine other more clear cut cases of socially motivated bigotry coupled with violence, such as the horrific incidences against non-combatants in the Syrian civil war or the tribal conflicts in CAR and South Sudan or the vigilante, mob justice that is common in Pakistan. But then I suppose our author loses some steam in her arguments by not being able to appeal to the racist, redneck bogeyman that apparently trumps all others in terms of worldwide bigotry, racism and intolerance.

  4. Alawadi was beat to death in her home next to a note.

    next to a note that was written by the man who murdered her to try shift the blame elsewhere…..that last little bit makes the difference. a racist didn’t write the note her muslim husband who beat her to death did!!!! unless of course you are claiming her husband murdered her because he is a racist.

  5. Ms. Shameen, you have no shame. Since Shaima Alawadi was killed by her muslim, Iraqi husband, how exactly does her “now-lifeless” body “represent the true victims of America’s inherent racism and prejudice”? Hard to believe a supposedly educated person could make this connection with any degree of honesty or integrity.

    Alawadi’s death does, however, represent a true victim of Islamic culture’s inherent misogyny and violence.

  6. Roy and Estelle prove the author’s point beautifully. Nice reporting on the growing problem of Islamophobia and also the political activism in regards to civil rights amongst America’s young Muslims.

  7. I strongly believe the purpose of her article was to informatively foster and shed light and understanding on an often difficult topic to discuss. The topic at hand has effected her in the world and the person she is striving to become. Making her stance, which this article is, inherently her concern based on her beliefs and what she knows. Bigotry, race, and hate are all very sensitive issues to address but by adamantly being spiteful and negative is NOT the way to approach the topic, you should take a step back and reflect on yourselves if that is the way you choose to go about addressing an issue. Great written illustration and beautiful writing!

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