Zain

Why I’m Happy for Zayn Malik.

From announcing his leave from One Direction, to leaking a new demo with producer Naughty Boy, and being referenced in Bill Maher’s talk show, Zayn Malik has been in the news frequently these past few weeks.

Many people have expressed sadness about Malik’s leave, calling this “an end to One Direction,” and that he is selfish for leaving the group. Malik expresses that he is looking for something new and unique in his career and life.

I never cared much about Zayn Malik in the beginning days of One Direction, but after realizing that there was a mixed race British Pakistani Muslim in the group, I found myself pretty ecstatic to see someone such as myself represented in a mainstream light.

Looking at this from a sociological standpoint, he is the only person of color in that ensemble.

Zayn Malik has had to navigate white supremacy throughout his entire career. He’s had to play through the politics of the industry, where he needed 4 other white dudes to validate his worth as a musician: his brown face alone wasn’t enough for the industry nor public to appreciate.

Zayn has always had to be seen as a part of something. He’s always had to be ⅕ of a whole. 1 out of the 5 in the group. Even when he is alone, people see him and engage with him as only a portion of a whole – as one piece of an individual identity.

As South Asians, we always have to sort of compensate for our brownness with whiteness. We always have to assimilate or indoctrinate white supremacy into our work in order for the white world to accept us.

On Season 8 of American Idol, Anoop Desai, an Indian American, auditioned for the show. The judges reacted with shock that he could actually sing well, but also commented on his “geeky” look. He was wearing a button up and khaki shorts, to me looking more like a frat guy at the beach than an executive in a business meeting. So I wondered if his geekiness was less about his clothes and more about him being Indian.

There are other countless examples of how Asian Americans are just not taken seriously in the media. And a lot of this is attributed to the Model Minority ideology, where people of color are demanded to assimilate to whiteness in order to be accepted and successful.

These geek stereotypes create a monolithic view of Asian Americans, that we aren’t cool enough to be artists, comedians, writers, etc. We rarely are represented in complex and dynamic ways.

And I think Zayn was just fed up with all of it. I think he realized that the world he was in was never going to truly accept him.

And I’ve also done some research on instances where he’s been criminalized for his identity. He’s been referred to as a terrorist heavily by just the general public via twitter, as well as in media in shows like the Daily Show, on one particular blog for “enticing jihad,” and even his leave prompting the conversation of whether or not he was leaving to join ISIS. Mostly recently, of course, Bill Maher compared Malik to the infamous Boston Bomber, comparing pictures of the two side and side and asking the question, “where were you at the Boston bombing?”

Now, I cannot express to you how outright offensive these comments are. I’ve been through this whole schabang in middle school and high school, and I can tell you it is horrific to go through this everyday. It is traumatizing to be mocked about something so out of your reach and control. And it is hurtful to even imagine that Zayn Malik probably has to go through this everyday.

And this is why I’m happy about Zayn Malik leaving One Direction. I think this is his moment of self-determination, of really embracing who he is and not allowing others to define or control his art. And that’s pretty powerful.

Zayn, bby, you go ahead and reject that white supremacy. You go ahead and be independent, break free, and dare to be yourself. Break those social barriers around you, and define you for you.

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by ZAIN AHMED

image sources: (http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/4/5/1428238782955/cdf4d459-4227-4f94-9561-236244f3c715-620×372.png and http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/GLOB/crop/2156×2154+0+134/resize/660×660!/format/jpg/quality/85/http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/midas/5b564e6651fa5f10cc39fb0a86281def/201166314/459493434.jpg)

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Calling Out White Gay Ish.

Identity is complex. Identity is multi-dimensional, intersectional, and contains a multitude of layers. Each of us contain a number of privileges, yet might face an amount of marginalization. Due to this complexity, forces of privilege will at times manifest in spaces of marginalization to derive oppressive behavior. Societal groupthink portrays a monolithic experience of a single identity group without acknowledging intersectionality, which can create internalized conflict within a community. Here is an example of privilege entering into spaces of marginalization, pertaining to the identities that I carry.

A few weeks ago, @DCHomos, a gay media-centered twitter user, shared this photo of a gay wedding between James and Ryan from Cincinnati, Ohio:osdhf 1

This picture shows the two gay men in traditional Indian attire, with their entire family dressed accordingly. As white people using Indian culture, these pictures received heavy criticism from some folks, stating that this was “disgustingly racist and appropriative,” and that this was “a bunch of white dudes mimicking an Indian wedding.”

Some people thought that the criticism stemmed from homophobic norms, even when that criticism came from queer people themselves:

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In this situation, the idea portrayed is that criticizing their use of Indian culture is inherently homophobic due to the fact that the people are gay. It paints the image that gay people are intrinsically oppressed, and do not experience privilege nor are able to make faults at all.

This is very similar to the story “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture,” where the author, Sierra Mannie, calls on white gay men to stop utilizing black female cultural vernacular and mannerisms.

“You are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. There is a clear line between appreciation and appropriation.”

Just like the plea to stop commodifying black female culture, I disagree with James and Ryan using Indian culture as two white men. Being gay and being oppressive are not mutually exclusive; in fact, racism and appropriation are very typical in mainstream LGBT culture.

James Baldwin, a gay and black Civil Rights activist, said this quote about the acceptance of black people within the LGBT community:

“I think white gay people feel cheated because they were born, in principle, in a society in which they were supposed to be safe. The anomaly of their sexuality puts them in danger, unexpectedly. Their reaction seems to me in direct proportion to their sense of feeling cheated of the advantages which accrue to white people in a white society. There’s an element, it has always seemed to me, of bewilderment and complaint. Now that may sound very harsh, but the gay world as such is no more prepared to accept black people than anywhere else in society.”

Baldwin very much foreshadowed an intrinsic issue within LGBT culture to this very day. Media portrays America as a “gay friendly haven,” yet we have clearly seen that there are significant levels of ignorance amongst white gay men towards their fellow colored counterparts. Perhaps I face marginalization within my ethnic and religious communities, but I do equally so face marginalization within LGBT communities.

Gay white men are not any more accepting of racism than straight white people are. Obviously, James and Ryan did not care enough as to invite an Indian or South Asian to this wedding, if they even have Indian or South Asian friends. They did not even consider to think about the lives, histories, and marginalization of queer South Asians, particularly those in India and Pakistan right now who face criminalization for being gay under Section 377.

As a queer Pakistani, I do not feel okay with this. I, too, demand that my culture be not used as a costume. My culture is not up for your disposal. You do not OWN it. None of this is about you being gay, but about you being white.

Check your privilege. 

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by ZAIN AHMED

The Dynamics of Love

Yesterday, a friend was sharing her feelings about a person that voiced personal interest in her. She explained that this person wasn’t “her usual type,” and that she was trying to find a sense of attraction because she felt that this person was very genuine and nice and wanted to give them a chance. However, for the meantime, she felt no emotional spark or connection towards the person, and hoped that it would grow over time.

I remember the first time a man sought interest in me; rather, I should mention, the first man that wasn’t a “creep,” nor someone way out of my box of interest. I wasn’t originally into him, but because he was interested in me, I figured I should explore the opportunity and see how things turned out. In the end, I ended up not feeling an emotional attraction to him.

My friend also shared that her only exposure to relationships was through more discreet ways, where the person was not fully committed and open but nevertheless gave in to some account. Similarly, I shared that I am generally always attracted to people that are either unavailable, or not mutually interested.

It reminded me of a scene in the show Scandal; the main character, Olivia Pope, is a woman who has a messy, deceitful relationship with the President and her feelings for him overpowered the other relationships she tried having with other men. When confronted by another character that proposed to her, she expressed that she wanted her love to be painful, complicated, and other harsh words. At the time, this was disturbing to me – who wants love like this? Shouldn’t love be happy?

However, during this conversation, it hit me – I’m only attracted to people in situations of confusion, of complication. I’ve never been into a man, or person, who has showed open and honest interest in me. Why is this? What do I really want, or expect?

About two years ago, I watched a documentary in an anthropology course on the experiences of couples who had arranged marriages. They expressed that, indefinitely, they had no feelings towards one another at the start, but over time they worked to create that connection, they worked to love each other. At the time, this confused me but looking back, I think it is a very valid concept.

When I think about this, I look back at that one relationship I had, and think – should I have worked to have feelings for him? Of course, this was never a serious relationship, but nevertheless I believe part of me was scared that someone could be so open and honest with me. Perhaps part of me was overwhelmed, and wanted to escape the intensity.

Also, it makes me look at future relationships – should I forget having “a type,” and just try anything with anyone? All relationships require work, however the work is also in personal attraction; that once you love someone’s character, the physical flaws disappear. Perhaps the way I love needs to be shifted to a certain degree; I need to better balance initial attraction and personal effort.

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by ZAIN AHMED

image source: https://mosaicsjsu.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/6a178-the-law-of-attraction-manifesting-love.jpg

On Being “Born into” Gender

In our current, modern-day society, we are growing in queer awareness in our media. We are slowly seeing queer diversity in our TV shows, in journalism, in arts. However, we still have a long way to go in addressing queer diversity in media and mainstream culture.

In a sociology class once, my professor was discussing social roles. He discussed that some roles, we are either born into or cannot change. He then went to explain that gender is a role that people are born into, and that for the most part we can’t change it, although some people are trans*.

I find the idea that people are “born into,” a gender problematic. We have to analyze what “being born into a gender,” really means. What does it imply?

Trans* woman, journalist, and fierce advocate Janet Mock appeared on Piers Morgan’s segment on CNN. They discussed Janet’s journey through childhood and transitioning to female. The initial interview seemed to go well until the show’s producers decided to take the interview out of context by saying Janet was “born a boy,” or “was a boy,” and the worst – “What if the love of your life was actually a boy?” or something along those lines. Janet argued with these statements via twitter.

After Janet appeared on the show again to debate with Piers her arguments, something she spoke stood out to me when asked whether she disputes being born a boy:

“Do I dispute that I was born a boy? I was born a baby who was assigned male at birth. I did not identify or live my life as a boy. As soon as I had enough agency in my life to grow up, I became who I am. And this did not start at 18 when I went to Thailand to have ‘surgery,’ it started when I was six years old, and my parents saw me for who I was and allowed me to live my life. That’s a lot of nuance, and it’s hard to communicate that in 30 seconds or even in a 140 character tweet.”

This idea that people are born and assigned a gender at birth, or given a gender identity, really has opened my eyes. I feel like it speaks very true, that people are never born as a gender, or people are never a distinct gender. It’s simply that people are born and assigned a gender, and then furthermore, socialized into that gender identity and it’s expectations.

It literally scares me how much children are socialized into gender normativity. I volunteer at a children’s community center, and more than most of the time I receive comments like “You talk like a girl,” or “boys aren’t supposed to be like that.” It doesn’t personally offend me, but it makes me realize how much we socialize gender into children. It scares me how strict these norms are, and how marginalized people that don’t fit these norms must be.

Genitalia doesn’t equal gender identity, and also that people aren’t born into a gender. It’s this socialization of gender that creates this belief, and furthermore objectifies and sensationalizes trans* people to merely their body parts.

We as a society need to start thinking about gender differently. Gender is so complex and so fluid, and people live their lives with a combination of different gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual identities. I hope that in the future, we continue to advocate for gender fluidity and erase these oppressive norms of the gender binary.

by ZAIN AHMED

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image source: http://images.catholic.org/ins_news/2013070839.jpg

The Stigma of Erased Histories from Human Rights Leaders

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of Lincoln Memorial in Kentucky to call an end to racism in the United States. This speech was incredibly profound, asking Americans to envision racial solidarity and inclusivity in all types of social and political settings.

Most Americans are taught about this historical moment in the Civil Rights Movement in elementary school social studies classes, and understand some of the realities of racial segregation in the United States; the separation of “white” restaurants, banks, schools, water fountains, public bathrooms, etc; from those that are “colored”, as well as the harassment, brutality, and even death many black citizens faced in the post-American slavery era.

Malala Yousafzai receiving her Nobel Prize this year.

The idea of “equality” is more complex than a majority of people think – the idea that people understand from King Jr.’s speech, the idea of “seeing everyone the same” is not actually what King preaches.

What our education system fails to present to the American people is King’s critique on U.S. military relations and poverty that not only affected American people of color, but also the war on Vietnam at the time.

“… [the Vietnamese people] watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for the one Vietcong-inflicted injury.” (‘Beyond Vietnam’ speech, 1967)

Why isn’t this discussed in our educational system? Why are King’s critiques on military erased when we discussed racial equality? Because it criticizes the motives of our government.

A few weeks ago, Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a young girl in Pakistan who was shot in the head by the terrorist group, the Taliban, when she advocated for educational rights for young girls. She became a renowned spokesperson for the rights and education of young girls around the world, and a face for intersectional feminism.

Our nation commodifies Malala as a brave, young girl who only wants to do good in the world. She has had a global impact in human rights and women’s rights. However, once again, her message is not fully represented through our nation’s media.

Malala actually actively critiques US drones in Pakistan and the Middle East, US funding in Israel, and also capitalism as a whole – she believes in socialism.

“It is true that when there’s a drone attack the terrorists are killed, it’s true,” she said. “But 500 and 5,000 more people rise against it and more terrorism occurs, and more — more bomb blasts occurs. … I think the best way to fight against terrorism is to do it through [a] peaceful way, not through war. Because I believe that a war can never be ended by a war.” (Huffington Post, 2013)

Although, yes, awareness of Malala’s views and critiques on US war relations and economic theory have spread due to social media, this was not something we had during King’s time. So the question still remains – why are histories that support criticism on the US military and economy continuously silenced?

I think this says a lot about the motives and values of those in high political power in our nation, as well as questions power dynamics in our nation altogether.

“Coming Out” is a Privileged Experience

This past Saturday was National Coming Out Day, a day that recognizes the triumph and accomplishments of the LGBTQ community, and furthermore pushing young queer youth to “come out,” and embrace their identities openly and wholly as they are.

Messages such as “coming out,” and “it gets better,” are widely propagated by the mainstream LGBT movement in America, telling young queer youth that they should live openly and their lives will be better for it.

However, not every queer person in our nation is able to live happily and openly. Many queer youth face hardships for coming out, and being out.

The mainstream gay rights movement is a movement that serves only upper class white queer people. The narratives we tell queer people about “coming out” and “it gets better,” as nice as they appear, only represent those who are normalized within white American culture. These narratives only put white people as the faces of the gay rights movement, which makes them money and power in society.

This movement silences POC, disabled, and lower class people. There is no “guidebook” on how to come out to immigrant families, to religious families, to families who don’t speak English, families that don’t know they’ve been affected by colonization. When I came out to my Muslim family, I was ostracized and dealt with fear for months.

Trans women of color especially are facing unemployment, homelessness, lack of healthcare, violence and even death. “Coming out” especially puts those in unsafe social environments in danger because a lot of young queer kids get kicked out of their homes and ostracized by their communities.

Unless we include the diversity of queer people, especially those facing violence, the concept of coming out remains to support those with privilege and power. A new message needs to be propagated by the LGBT movement – queer youth need helping trying to survive.

by ZAIN AHMED

image source: (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ed/Logo_ncod_lg.png)

Halloween and Hyper-Christianized America

October. It is the month where we recognize the holiday, “Halloween.” On Halloween, people across the nation celebrate with costumes, trick-or-treating, candy, and parties.

As a Muslim, I’ve never actually celebrated Halloween. If anything, I’ve done minimal things such as attending small parties. Outside of that, I’ve never dressed up nor trick-or-treated. My mother, in fact, prevented me from doing such when I was younger.

To this day, I feel constantly excluded whenever the rest of the country recognizes Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even Valentine’s Day (mostly because I’m usually single). Every winter break, I enter into a depressive phase due to the fact that I feel very lonely when all of my other friends are celebrating Christmas and enjoying time with their families, while I am sitting home alone.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. I simply feel that America is a hyper-Christianized nation. A nation where we glorify Christianity as a “proper” religion, a nation where we only recognize and commemorate Christian holidays. A nation where we market specifically for these holidays, and neglect other religious holidays.

I believe that if America wants to glorify Halloween, we should also glorify holidays like Eid. Schools should give us the day off on Eid, and we should feel represented on this day. This should happen for other holidays, as well.

 

by ZAIN AHMED

image source: (http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01018/jack-o-lantern_1018235i.jpg)

Impersonal Assimilation and Personal Loss

In my Social Problems class, we read and discussed a piece titled “La Raza Cosmica,” written by a journalist named Richard Rodriguez. In this piece, Rodriguez discusses the reality of the Mexican immigrant into America, the experience of changing one’s personal culture and values, assimilation into a white-American sense of self, and embracing however one feels about themselves.

Rodriguez explains how growing up in America, he has never felt internal connection to Mexican culture. He is constantly criticized for his lack of Spanish fluency, his internal ideals, and lack of understanding of his family’s heritage and history.

“When I go to Mexico, even the waitress lets me know with her voice that I displease her because I don’t speak Spanish well. I have betrayed Mother Mexico; I have betrayed memory.”

However, Rodriguez doesn’t feel that these things are necessary for his personal self. He explains that he defines his own culture that isn’t related to his Mexican background.

“My detractors seem to think I somehow ‘left my culture’ at the Greyhound bus station; I forgot it somewhere. I lost it as though it were something independent of me. But one doesn’t lose one’s culture. I am my culture. Lucille Ball is my culture. And Walt Disney is my culture. A California freeway is my culture.”

He further explains that immigrant parents should not persist on teaching children their culture, or tell them to fear losing it; rather, to define their own culture for themselves.

This piece struck many chords with me – it is extremely relevant to my childhood battles with my culture.

As a queer, first-generation Pakistani-American Muslim Agnostic Atheist, I grew up with an intersection of identities. At home, I was taught to “be better” than everyone else at school, that “my religion” put me above everyone else. Yet, I do not fluently speak my parents’ native language, which is Urdu. I am also queer, which ultimately outcasts me from the general community as well. I felt incredibly isolated and disconnected with my family’s culture and religion – I felt I was too liberal, too progressive; too different.

At the same time, in school I was taught to be American – to speak English, to listen to American music, to value American ideals. I felt that being American was more valuable, more accepting – yet I also felt a sense of disconnect here as well. I was too brown, too Muslim; too different.

In a way, I relate a lot to how Rodriguez feels. I understand what it’s like to feel pressured to live up to expectations that you somehow feel do not reflect who you are personally. I know how it is to feel outcasted, to feel like wanting to escape the boxes that society put you in.

What I didn’t realize as a child is that this process of assimilation is actually very damaging to a person’s self – when you lose your history, your background, your heritage, you become influenced by the standards of being set by white people, by white supremacy.

White supremacy has taught us to “get over” colonialism, imperialism, apartheid and genocide; to “get over” the mass killings and rapings of land, people, communities, histories, and culture committed by white European parties. White supremacy has taught us to value American standards over our “backwards” immigrant families’ culture.

I believe understanding our heritage, our ethnic backgrounds, and our histories are so immensely important to retaining the small identity that we have left, because of white supremacy. If we do not even have these things, we become nothing but assimilated by the white man.

At the same time, many of us in the American diaspora feel disconnected due to the outcasting from our immigrant communities. As a queer person, I feel that the Muslim Pakistani community wants nothing to do with me. As if being queer is only an “American thing.” They, too, have been affected by assimilation.

I believe mutual understanding and solidarity is so necessary in feeling at home with our ethnic communities. If we do not understand each other, we start to hate one another. For so long, I resisted communicating with other South Asian people because I believed they were all “backwards;” what I realize now is that I was influenced by white ideals of being.

I don’t want to assimilate anymore. I don’t want to be rejected anymore. I want to find balance in my background as well as present. I want to be proud of all that I am, not what others tell me to be. I want to be complete.

by ZAIN AHMED

(image source: http://199.204.138.22/Images/Blogs/gcalvert/Assimilation.jpg )

API Complacent in Social Justice

In November 2013, the San Jose Mercury News released information about a serious hate crime against a black frosh student that occurred in his eight person suite perpetuated by four white students. Students were outraged by the news and took action with rallies, protests, hosting speakers, and school board task force meetings in order to tackle the issue of race and diversity on our campus.

I recall that semester when the news of the incident broke out; I was mortified. I knew our campus wasn’t perfect, and that racism was still very much an issue in our society; yet, I could not believe a crime this extreme could happen so close to home. San Jose State University has been a place of safety for me – a space that I felt was at least open to students of color, and had tolerance for different racial groups. I could have never expected a crime like this to occur on my campus, and it questioned my sense of safety and security in this university.

A few weeks after the news broke out, I attended a discussion meeting hosted by an API (Asian and Pacific Islander) student organization that facilitated a conversation about people’s feelings toward the incident. To my surprise, many of the students shared feelings of disconnect, of uninterest. I heard one person say, “I don’t connect with this issue. It doesn’t really relate to me.”

I was very surprised by this reaction – how could anyone not see the grave injustice of this incident? How could anyone not care about this? It didn’t make sense to me.

http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_24573840/sj-state-reacts-angrily-torment-black-student

After the incident, many students gathered in solidarity for a rally called Black Thursday.=’t make sense to me.

API Americans have historically lived under the socialized culture of the Model Minority complex, which Wikipedia defines as a minority group whose members are most often perceived to achieve a higher degree of success than the population average. This success is typically measured in income, education, and related factors such as low crime rate and high family stability.

Societal norms continuously perpetuate the stereotypes of Asian Americans, and South Asian Americans – that we’re good at math, we’re hardworking, we become engineers and doctors.

The notions that aren’t discussed in this, however, is how it can silence not only issues within the API community but create difference between API people and other communities. The idea perpetuated behind this is that API people have supposedly surpassed racial disparities, and that social issues of poverty, health, and more don’t exist in API communities (newsflash – they do).

Furthermore, this tells people that other communities, such as black and Latinx* communities, are told to work harder like us APIs. That if they just try hard enough, that they can be as good as we are. This promotes sociological norms such as Anti-blackness in a lot of API communities.

Essentially, the white man is telling us to stay silent, and we’ll give you what you want.

However, society fails to discuss the economic and social disparities in the API community, that are similar to those perpetuated in black and Latinx communities. API people who are influenced into the Model Minority complex want to be compared to the standard of success; the standard set by white people.

As a result, API Americans have historically distanced themselves from other people of color. This makes them content to social injustice, and resistant to act for change. API Americans are continuously complacent in matters of social justice, and I believe this is a result of white supremacy that influences people down the line.

API Americans need to stop sitting around and allowing things to happen. We need to stop normalizing violence and injustice not only in our communities, but also other communities of color. Solidarity is necessary and important in reaching social change.

by ZAIN AHMED

*Latinx is spelled as such so as not to me either male or female centric (ie, not Latino or Latina)

Image Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_24573840/sj-state-reacts-angrily-torment-black-student

Objectivity

People tell me to be objective. People tell me to be reasonable. People tell me to weigh out all of the facts – too look at the pros and cons.

Webster’s Dictionary defines objectivity as to express or deal with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.

In other words, to argue something with legitimacy, you have to consider all of the facts in an encompassing, equal light.

I, myself, do believe that when discussing issues, we have to understand the entirety of the situation in order to create a formulated idea about it. Without understanding all of the complexities of an issue, we become biased thinkers.

In Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot to death by a white police officer, Darren Wilson – while holding his hands up in a defense position, crying, “don’t shoot.” A lot of people are claiming that this case is only an addition to the countless cases of police brutality against primarily black and brown people.

On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly however argued that, “People unfortunately these days believe what they want to believe, alright? They’re not waiting to see what happened. That’s number one, that you have a number of forces in play, uhm, that are trying to convince people of the truth, unquote, alright, the truth; when they have no blanking idea what happened! None!”

I agree that facts are necessary to validate the wholesome truth and accuracy of this case. To achieve social justice, people strive to voice the voiceless, to reclaim histories that are lost in mainstream societal thought, and to portray a different view to garner understanding and desire for change. The facts help portray the real story, and the real story matters.

Yet, at what cost are people being told to be objective?

Are we actually trying to look at issues unbiased, or are we actually just letting issues stay stagnant?

Who is it that is preaching objectiveness? And who is it that these issues affect?

Racism, classism, sexism, militarism, and more – all of these social issues are stemmed from institutional and systematic facets of power. These systems of power affect how the rest of the structure is treated, what rights and privileges they are able to access and attain, and how they are represented in our media.

Police militarization in Ferguson, Missouri.

In Ferguson, a town that is 63% black with a 94% white police force, racial divide is very prominent in this issue, and it is something that should be taken seriously. In the protests following this case, black protesters have been attacked by police with tear gas and other militarized weaponry, even in their own homes; while protestors such as the KKK and others who support Darren Wilson have been safely protected. Our nation was built on the freedom of speech, why is that right only accessible to certain groups and not others?

An unarmed black man is killed every 28 hours by police and law enforcement, yet time and time again the legal justice system strives in the favor of the latter.

The truth is, when a lot of journalists, protestors, and other people try to convey the idea of “objectiveness,” on issues like these, what they are merely doing is scrambling to retain their power and privilege in the societal hierarchy.

When racial advocacy groups work to make impressionable arguments proving racial profiling and racism in society, a lot of people will get defensive and claim that they are “placing the race card,” because they are so afraid of putting their power in question.

When many folks claim that anger is “immature,” or “inappropriate,” what is actually happening is the silencing and erasure of people’s lived experiences – how political and social systems affect human lives.

Human lives matter. Anger, pain, and personal experiences should be taken very seriously in fighting for equality. Without understanding how social issues affect human lives, we lose track of what is being fought for. When people devalue the lived experiences of marginalized groups, we don’t understand the full extent of an issue.

Anger is real, pain is real, suffering is very real. Emotions are valid and should be justified.

I do believe that objectivity and understanding the entire story of a situation is extremely necessary to achieve social justice and equality, and that pointing fingers is not at all productive. However, when objectivity is used at the cost of erasing and silencing marginalized groups of people and the actual histories of these people, that’s when it becomes an oppressive tool.

 

by ZAIN AHMED