If I used the phrase "the events of 9/12," no one would know what I was talking about. When you compare it to 9/11, it's kind of like the less-talented, not-as-good-looking little brother of 9/11. You know, the one you give an extra hug to out of sheer pity.
But 9/12 had its own place in our contemporary times. It was a day when journalistic accuracy changed, when millions of high school seniors decided what they'd write their personal statements about, when the alarm clock of the American Muslims started to buzz loudly, determined to wake us up. This was the day when we started having to actively convince people that we were Americans.
Muslim organizations around the nation started to establish media relations departments and started to become very, very careful of what they said out loud and online. "You da bomb," once an awesome phrase used only by super cool people, became insensitive and a little scary. Mosques everywhere encouraged their congregations to lay low. And then, a few months later, as if bipolar, they encouraged their congregations to become more visible in their communities and to (finally) get to know their neighbors and non-Muslim friends of friends. Everyone and their mother began to share stories like this on Facebook and Twitter, trying to show the positive actions that American Muslims were capable of.
Until 9/11, most American Muslims were in the shell that recent immigrants use to protect themselves from having to eat pizza and assimilate into mainstream society. With the exception of the younger ones who formed close relationships with non-Muslim friends at school, most American Muslim communities kept to themselves. Though the terrible 9/11 shocked us in our bubbles, the meditative 9/12 helped us realize the urgency with which we had to leave them.
10 years later, Muslims say that life became harder for them. And it did. Not only are we under greater scrutiny, but we have to make more of an effort to reassure others that we are just as American as they are, that our cliques don't mean that we are resentful of America, that we've begun to enjoy pizza and baseball. It is a struggle that will continue until the 15th or 20th anniversary of 9/12, but it is a struggle that we need to get through to understand ourselves and our surroundings better. We, as a community, need to continue inviting others into our lives, our homes, our spaces, to help them allow us into theirs. While others that support us can call out our critics (thank you, Jon Stewart), we have to do our part to show the happiness and contentment we have found here.
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