The other day, in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, I was brought to tears by a story I read on Facebook from my friend Kate. The story was about her children being bullied on their school bus because they’re Muslim. Her children were told they are hated because they are Muslim, they were told they are “stupid” and “talk funny.” Reading this story was one thing. Knowing it is one of many similar stories is another thing. Showing heartache and caring for the family is yet another thing — but the thing that matters most and the thing I’m wondering is what in the world are we really doing about it?
Many will read something like this and then be sure to check in or reach out to their Muslim friends, or maybe attend something to meet more Muslims and broaden their sense of understanding. What about what happens next? Our friends don’t wake up the next day healed or dismantled from this hatred; our reaching out doesn’t make our friends exempt from their children riding that bus every single day. Does our selfishness prevent us from realizing that these small acts are just things to build on in order to have a lasting impact on the very lives who are deeply wounded? Can we lead a life that makes disassembling hate a basic part of our every day? What does that look like?
With my lens of privilege and ignorance, it’s all too easy for me to sleep without worrying what I might face tomorrow in terms of violence or hatred. It seems so many in my position rely on writing that one piece, going to that one protest, or standing up for that one person — to somehow “heal the wounds” or to selfishly ease our egos. Isn’t it exactly this kind of thinking that allows the cycle to continue? If this hatred towards my fellow human doesn’t go away, why should I? Our world needs a constant and continuous stance in love with those who are being brutally marginalized, bullied, racially attacked, and so on...
“Real love cannot be silent in the face of injustice.” Mel White
Love is a way of life, a way of living, being, and moving in this world ― one drudges through the mud of hatred to consistently show and be love. Love doesn’t just show up that one time to a Black Lives Matter meeting and call it good; Love doesn’t call their Muslim friend only once to check in and say I’m thinking of you and consider their job done; Love doesn’t stand up against LGBTQIAA discrimination once and get their checkmark; Love doesn’t have a single social media post about being kind to one another and assumes a magic wand alters the world... Love constantly and consistently stands up for each of these things and more because they are urgent, critical, and important to humanity as a whole. Love knows the world encompasses a spectrum of differences, and hatred diminishes its ability to flourish.
Kate’s children got back on the bus the next day. They rode with the same child that told them they were hated, talked funny, and are stupid. Kate let her concerned friends know, “Luckily, the boys are strong and secure in their faith, msA*, and are able to understand that other people cannot dictate or determine their value or self-worth.”
If we all took a lesson from this family we might learn a few things. Love knows there is mud to drudge through and continues to get back on the bus. Love reminds us that being ourselves is often the precise thing necessary to begin demolishing hate. Love knows the mud of hate is less thick when we walk together.
Writing this is one thing. Reading this is one thing. So, I’m wondering, what in the world are we really doing about it?
“In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
- *Note: Talk to your friends, ask them questions if you don’t understand something. I wasn’t sure what “msA” meant so Kate so kindly shared with me: “Mashallah. It’s a Muslim invocation giving credit to God. Sort of a recognition that this outcome was only with God’s permission. It can seem weird but we try to remember to say it, especially when we’re talking about things we’re grateful for that could be different. I think the English version would be ‘by the grace of God.’
- Screenshot of Facebook post used with permission.