What Are You Thankful For?

There has been a lot going on in the news (and even more going on outside of news coverage). I have to say, on top of being mentally exhausted and emotionally drained from this seemingly endless string of unfortunate and tragic events (and stupid people screaming stupid, uninformed opinions about them), I’m feeling extra thankful this year. I am a relatively privileged individual, and I try my hardest never to forget that.

I mean, yeah, I’m a female, and I’m black, and I was born to a lower-middle-class family, so I’m far from the most privileged, but I honestly can’t complain. I never had to go hungry, ever. I always had a loving, supportive family and a roof over my head. My parents couldn’t pay for my college education, but I finished undergrad and grad — the former as magna cum laude, the latter with a 3.7 GPA. And I was always nourished. I’ve got my health.

Reading about Syria, Iraq, ISIS, terrorists, racism, Islamophia, or police brutality just hurts my heart. Being a U.S. citizen living on the mainland in a city too small to be targeted for attacks is something that crosses my mind often. I mean, yes, the U.S. makes me sick sometimes, but I’m safe (for the most part. Let us not forget the police impunity and trigger-happy bigots around here). I was in the 4th grade when 9/11 happened. I was terrified. And that attack happened miles and miles away, and no one I knew was hurt or killed.

But imagine attacks like that happening every week. What if car bombs and landmines were a daily worry? ISIS isn’t sending us photos of drowned refugee toddlers, saying “See this? This is what happens when you leave us.”

Guys, this is looking a lot like a remake of WWII and Cold War American culture. Many people don’t even seem to realize we’re being spoon fed fear-mongering propaganda. I’m still waiting for the 2015 edition of Duck and Cover. The only difference is that we welcomed Jews running from Hitler, but we won’t welcome Syrian refugees.

But Jasmine, what about sleeper cells? Terrorists disguise themselves as refugees! Muslims hate America!

Um. It’s waaaaaay easier for a terrorist to sneak into a country than for a terrorist to disguise himself as a refugee. Our screening process is pretty damn rigorous. And even if one happens to sneak by, there are tens of thousands of terrified, hungry, starving refugees running away from the same thing we’re trying to destroy: ISIS. 

And anyway, America is pretty good at breeding it’s own terrorists:

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The mass murderer behind the 2012 Dark Knight theater shooting.

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The 2012 Sandy Hook shooter.

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The KKK. ‘Nuff said.

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“All terrorists are Muslim!” Ok.

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This guy, the Virginia Tech shooter, was from South Korea. Does this mean we should ban South Koreans from coming to the States? (No. In case you were wondering, the answer is no.)

I could go on.

But Jasmine, you act like such a bleeding heart, but you probably wouldn’t take a refugee into your own home.

Yes. Yes I would, actually. And if I had the money (I’m talking $30k to spare), I’d support a family via this sponsoring program.

So, while you’re having your lovely feast this Thursday, be sure to really think about what all you have (and what some of you are trying to keep from others).

The holidays are about love and happiness and support. It’s time with your friends and family. It’s a time of giving. And that’s the only way we’re going to fight this vicious cycle of terror and hate. ISIS wants us to hate the refugees and turn them away. When that happens, some of the rejected refugees develop hatred for Westerners and turn to ISIS, where even more hatred is bred.

So give! To refugees, to the homeless, to the veterans, to rescued animals. As cliched as it may sound, love really is the only way we can win.

Happy Thanksgiving! 😀

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“Pray for Paris and…”

Yes. But I’m sure by now you’ve all heard “but not only for Paris.”

I’m pretty sure the attacks in Beirut wouldn’t have even made global news had it not been for the Paris attacks, which then prompted people to say, Hey, this other thing that’s just as important also happened in Lebanon. Why is that?

Is it because the world in general thinks European lives matter more than Middle Eastern lives?

But stuff like that happens all the time over there, so it’s not news.

Actually, “stuff like that” doesn’t happen in Lebanon all the time:

“The implication, numerous Lebanese commentators complained, was that Arab lives mattered less. Either that, or that their country — relatively calm despite the war next door — was perceived as a place where carnage is the norm, an undifferentiated corner of a basket-case region. …. A reminder of the muddled perceptions came last week, when Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, declared that ‘if you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon, or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.’ That was news to Lebanon’s Christians, who hold significant political power.” (Source: Beirut Feels Forgotten)

Why did Facebook not activate their safety check for people whose loved ones were in Beirut at the time of the suicide bombings? Facebook later saved face by saying the high social activity surrounding the Paris attacks prompted them to activate safety check:

“As for Facebook, it declared that the high level of social media activity around the Paris attacks had inspired the company to activate Safety Check for the first time for an emergency other than a natural disaster, and that a policy of when to do so was still developing.
“‘There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris,’ wrote Alex Schultz, the company’s vice president for growth, adding that Safety Check is less useful in continuing wars and epidemics because, without a clear end point, ‘it’s impossible to know when someone is truly “safe.”‘” (Beirut Feels Forgotten)

(Some people also complained that Facebook only offered a profile pic filter of the French flag, but that’s not as a big a deal, in my opinion. Just make your own filter, or do what I did and make your profile pic the image of the Lebanese flag.)

So, if we follow this logic, then the Beirut bombings was barely a news blip in the media. Indeed, many people had no idea it had even occurred until after the Paris bombings.

Why do Arab lives seem to matter less? Even if you do make the assumption that “stuff like that happens over there all the time,” why does that make it any less horrific? In actuality, it should be more horrific. Innocent lives were lost in both Paris and Beirut. Both were tragic events. But the world is only saying Pray for Paris. (To sugarcoat it, it’s like saying Rue’s death in the Hunger Games movie was less tragic because she was played by a black actress… which ties into the whole notion that Black lives matter less, but that’s a whole other topic for another time…)

Everywhere I go, I see the French flag now. Driving around downtown, I saw it waving on a billboard with its accompanied hashtag.

Look, send your love and thoughts to France. But also Lebanon. And Syria. And Kenya (which suffered a similar terrorist attack from al-Shabaab, but no one seemed to notice). And everyone.

Just.

Everyone.

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Be safe. Be kind.

Peace.