Post Racial America is a theoretical utopia of American society where the nation is free from discrimination, prejudice and cruel stereotypes. Some may say that the United States has come a long way since Jim Crow laws and the civil rights movement therefore claiming that an achievement of post racial America. Others point out that it began after the election of the first African American President. And some say it’s been achieved after the U.S involvement in the Middle East.
But have we really reached a post racial United States?
After the attacks on September 11, hate crimes towards Muslims, or anyone that looked Muslim, skyrocketed. Muslim women in headcoverings, also known as hijabs, were claimed to be oppressed. Any male who wore a beard was categorized as a terrorist. And up until the Sikh Temple shootings in Wisconsin, the mass confusion of “brown” people also increased, as CNN reports, the Sikh community was “mistaken to for Muslims.”
Eleven years after the attack, and Islamophobia, or the fear of Muslims still seems to be present. In a matter of month, the hatred continues to rise.
On August 6th Joplin’s only mosque within a 50 mile radius was suspiciously burned down.
On August 13 2011, an Islamic school in west suburban Lombard was hit with an acid filled bottle during the nightly Taraweeh prayers.
On August 17th, Muslim headstones were vandalized with hate graffiti such as “Pig” “Mohamed is a liar” and “Fag” in Chicago.
And in latest news, at local state fair, Hank Williams Jr. during his concert in Iowa yelled “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S and we hate him!”
Within weeks, these series of events indicate that Islamophobia has not improved much since 9/11 and that maybe post racial America has not been achieved. For imagine if the roles were switched?
Would CNN justifty the temple shooting if the victims were Muslim? Would it have been then okay?
What if a church was burnt down in Missouri? Or had acid been thrown at a synagogue during a Sabbath?
Or most importantly, what if Obama had been Muslim? Should it really matter the religion of our president? Would it have changed his victory during the elections?
And since the answers to the questions all result in yes, it reaffirms that Islamophobia is more than just present, but still very ubiquitous and prevalent in today’s society. That even eleven years after September 11th, being Muslim automatically meant being dangerous, cruel and results in being treated as second class citizens.
During the month of Ramadan, my sister brought her friend, Andrea to Taraweeh prayer, a nightly routine where Muslims observe prayer at a local mosque. Andrea has been best friends with my sister for over 4 years now. Although she was Christian by faith, she wished to observe the Muslim lifestyle because the majority of her close friends including my sister, were Muslim. During a 20 minute break we had between prayers, we all decided to make a quick run to our local Wawa for some coffee. On our way back to the mosque, Andrea seemed disturbed.
“I just got the dirtiest look ever,” she said. I turned back to look at Andrea. She was still in the hijab she decided to wear for the night at the mosque out of respect. “It was horrible. All because I’m in a hijab? And I’m not even Muslim.”
My sister and I exchanged glances and looked at her sympathetically. We’ve grown so accustomed to the dirty looks and the laments that we don’t even notice anymore. But Andrea had taken it to heart.
Photo credit: Solidarity
And although plenty of people across the states sympathize with Muslim-Americans like Andrea, and have spoken out against these attacks, many more continue to be uneducated. As the fastest growing religion in the world, the misrepresentation of 1.6 billion people in the world continues to take a toll in our very homes. Until CNN realizes that the religion of a person shouldn’t be a validation for a murder and for mainstream to provide fair reporting on injustices to the Muslim community, a post racial America has not been achieved. For Muslim Americans have grown, lived and loved this country for centuries. And that the name Mohammed is equal to Goldstein, Smith and Singh. Therefore until the treatment of all citizens become equal and the irrational fear of a certain people diminish, this country has not progressed. In reality, it’s become a repetitive history of scapegoating a race. For it was once the Italians, Jews, African Americans, Asian Americans and now the Muslims. We’ve fallen into a cycle of discrimination, prejudice and racial stereotypes that instead have become setbacks.
Despite our African American president and despite our meddling in the Middle East, until equality has reached all races, we cannot claim our country to be post racial. Not until all races receive a visit from Obama after an attack, until the term Muslim is no longer synonymous with the notion of evil and until the mainstream media sympathizes with all Americans. Only then will we have achieved post-racial status, but until that moment, Muslims will have to keep living, keep defending and keep fighting for normality in this country, one moment at a time.