First of all, my heart goes out to all the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. I am so, so grateful that my family and friends are safe. I can only imagine the fear and a deep-seated apprehension that must have settled all over the city. I’m not sure what I would have done if I was still in Boston. But I do know that I would be writing.
Writing helps me sort through my thoughts and bring order to my mind. I’ve had a lot of emotions running through me the past few days. Fear that my family had been hurt. Worry that more attacks my come. And yet I am not surprised. This type of violence is common in many parts of the world. US imperialism is constantly waging war against Third World people. This state of fear is common place in areas like Pakistan, Palestine and Yemen. To me, this seems like another manifestation of imperialist violence. Another bomb in a long line of bombs stretching back to Columbus.
There has been such an outpouring of love and support for Boston and the victims of the bombing. It is amazing to see the bravery of those folks who witness the disaster first hand and do what they can to help. All over my Facebook and Tumblr, as well as in person, I have seen people express deep sympathy and solidarity with Boston. I have seen so much rage at the people who did this. But I wonder, where is all of this rage and love and solidarity for the victims of drone strikes in places like Pakistan and Yemen? Where is the outcry for the dead innocents aboard?
And I wonder if that 8 year old boy had been Black, would he have been as mourned as he is now?
Of course, I already know the answer to these questions. Its natural to react more strongly to things that happen closer to you. It is easier to dehumanize that which you will never see or interact with. And our culture of systemic white ignorance keeps most people from realizing what is happening or even caring. But this does not make the reality any less disheartening.
And I worry about what sort of racist backlash we are in store for. Already, a Saudi student was accused of being a suspect by the media, when in actually he was injured by the blast. Two men were taken off of a plane because they spoke “Arabic“. A “be on the lookout” alert has gone out for a “tall, dark-skinned man wearing a black hoodie and a black backpack”, which is probably the vaguest, and most lethal, description ever. I have many friends who fit this description but none of them are, of course, involved But that is not going to matter. What is going to matter is the racialized panic that is going to envelop Boston and make like much, much harder for brown folks, especially folks who “look” Muslim.
Already I am seeing on my Facebook patriotic calls for revenge. And that scares me more than anything because that patriotism is under girded by white supremacy and imperialism. And patriots rarely care if their victims were actually responsible for the crimes that they are accused of.
I also wonder how this will affect victims of domestic violence. Almost always, disasters put victims of DV at greater risk.
I don’t say this to minimize the pain or the suffering or the fear that is going on in Boston right now. Rather, I encourage us to hold all of these truths together. I encourage us to stand in solidarity with all victims of violence and understand the ways in which we are complicit in imperial violence here and abroad. I ask that you remember the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and the victims of drone strikes. I ask that my friends in Boston, and elsewhere, resist the urge to buy into the panic that the media will be selling us.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Take care of each other. If you feel like this stuff is getting to you, reach out. There is a Disaster Distress Helpline that can help you through this. It is times like these that really show the mettle of our character. I would hope that we can act out of compassion rather than fear.