Ages ago, I read about the Chapel Hill Killings. During that time I was really, really sensitive to Muslims in the news, and besides I had become self-conscious bordering on paranoid and hated going outside on my own with a passion. I was sad and hurting, and learning about Chapel Hill during this vulnerable time in my life upended me.
What were the Chapel Hill killings? Three young Muslims were shot down in their apartment building by their neighbour. It was originally because the neighbour was a volatile man but it clearly became evident that this was a hate crime. A hate crime against Muslims. Against Muslims who were going to university, who volunteered in charity organisations, who had bright and optimistic smiles on their faces. They were Western Muslims. This was the closest I ever got to listening to people who were the most like me get murdered for pretty much having a similar outlook on life as I had. As I have. The Chapel Hill shootings shrank my terrible world down so small. Like the sky was pushing down on me. I could so get shot no matter what.
Someone once told me that being so scared of this threat was almost silly. That, then, everyone should be staggeringly terrified that the moment they open their eyes machine-guns would rain divine and not so divine intervention on them. All the time. Nobody would be able to do anything for the great fear that someone is definitely out to murder them to bits. That you shouldn’t be worried about things you can’t control, like your loved ones dying in their sleep or someone somewhere getting a gun ready to blast you into pieces.
It is what it is.
Eventually I was able to shed my self-consciousness and timidness and afraidness and put on a brave no-nonsense front in spite of the world. I was able to do this one night because I was travelling on my own, it was around the late evening time, and thanks to my sheltered youth I had yet to experience travelling on my own in London during the night-time. Plus I was lost. I had to shove the fear and the terror and the panic right to the very back of my mind and focus on approaching people so that I could get what I want: directions back home. This helped a lot. I realised that I was still human. And that despite the fear that anyone on the street was just looking for an opportunity to shank me for my headscarf or my being a woman or my ethnic minority-ness, I kind of really had to go on. I realised that I didn’t have the time nor the means to entertain these nightmares, because as of yet they hadn’t happened to me and besides I had things I wanted to achieve in life that wouldn’t get achieved if I was too much of a wimp to even breathe.
Recently we’ve had the shootings in Quebec. I don’t know much. Ever since the Chapel Hill, and possibly before, I had subconsciously at first (and now consciously) been avoiding the news. I only eye the news from the corner of my eye, internet gossip that it is. It’s like the game Minesweep for me, come across the right article and BOOM! everything I’ve been working so hard for goes down the drain in a quivering mess of paranoia.
Rightly so, it seems. My friend sent me the video of the Canadian prime minister calling the Quebec shooting a terror attack. I think he also mentioned about how this has terrorised not only the Canadian Muslim community but all Canadians. That the Muslims of Quebec would be so, so afraid to practice their religion, god to pray their salah, simply because they could get gunned down.
Shit like that, like Chapel Hills, could potentially ruin everything I’ve worked hard to build. This dogged determination to actually do shit in life doesn’t come cheap. Thankfully I am not so fragile. I refuse to let this have power over my life. I am trying not to think about it.
Clearly, this is not working. It is what it is.
And y’all thought, for even a second, that Islamophobia wasn’t a thing. Hah. Please, please make comedic jokes about Muslims. I’m pretty sure that punchline is forever more the literal truth. And I don’t need to go to see a show in order to laugh.