The COVID Diaries: Horror

Don’t worry; I didn’t get COVID. Lately when people start ghosting, my mind automatically wonders if they got COVID-19. I wondered if that’s what some people thought about me when I disappeared these past few weeks.

All is fine, health-wise (alhamdulillah). It’s just been a wild few weeks and I haven’t had the time or mental energy to blog. I’ve had a lot to blog about, but the days just went by so fast and suddenly it had been three weeks since I posted anything on here. I do plan to write about my past three weeks, in separate blog posts. Those will be coming within the next few days. For now, I want to take this post to catch you up on this week, because it feels wrong to post about my peaceful and happy final week of Ramadan while our country is on fire.

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I haven’t watched the video, and it’s hard to even look at pictures of George Floyd being murdered. It was sad, horrifying, and infuriating to hear about this happening yet another time. Honestly, nothing surprised me when I read the news because I have read this headline so many times.

Then the protests started, as they have in the past. I didn’t take part because, well, social distancing. But as I scrolled through twitter I started to read some accounts of protests getting violent, so I find a hashtag and start reading. And reading. And reading. And reading. For a good two hours last Saturday night I was just scrolling through Twitter, reading all of the live updates of the protests happening around the country.

I can’t even write this next paragraph without feeling rage. I have been overwhelmed with videos and accounts of police officers terrorizing peaceful protestors. I have seen so many videos of police officers taking the first punch. Spraying a woman casually walking in front of them with mace. Slamming shields into the stomach of a member of a news crew. Listening to a young man pour out his soul about how he wants to get to know all of the cops watching him and then walking over to him and dragging him away in handcuffs. Pushing a woman already sitting so that she stumbles and falls over. Swearing in a person’s face and then condemning the person for not following orders. Driving over a crowd of civilians with an SUV. Establishing a curfew effective immediately, blocking exits for protestors to leave, and then arresting the protestors for not leaving. Pushing an old man head-first onto the ground. Literally throwing people in the air. Trampling someone while riding a horse. Telling a man to walk away, watching him start walking away, and then running after him so that he can be pushed a little farther. Listening to a protestor’s speech and then ramming a bike into his body. Beating someone with a bat who is already on the ground being beaten by at least three other cops. Destroying a tent with medical supplies. Handcuffing people attempting to STOP a store from being looted.

And then military gets sent in because it’s the cops who are fearful.

And I, a Hijab-wearing Muslim woman, watch all of this and only one word keeps popping up in my mind: Oppression. This is it. This is what they keep saying is “happening to me,” and yet they are the ones doing it right before my eyes.

That is my experience on twitter, following live updates from people all over the country. Then I go over to facebook, with my mostly Muslim and minority friends and family.

And the topic of conversation is looting and rioting.

How. How are we focusing on what the protestors are doing wrong when our enforcers of safety are shoving women onto the ground.

I spent Monday and Tuesday in rage and fear as I watched our country turn into all of those viral videos of violence in the Middle East. I understand that it’s not the same situation, but the hypocrisy of our authority figures painting other countries as these unpredictable and barbaric lands my entire life and then doing this is blinding.

Then I spent Wednesday and Thursday hurting and lost. Not hurting for me, but hurting for my black friends and family. Lost about what I could possibly say to provide any kind of ease to that hurt. Praying. Praying for God make this right. Crying for how much the black population has been put through in this country. Trying to avoid social media to ease my own pain, but feeling like a privileged brat myself because black people cannot just “take a break” from this narrative. And again, lost about what I can even say in the face of all of this.

Nothing from my own mouth has felt meaningful at all, so I’ve just been sharing what others post. I’ve come to this understanding within myself that because I am not black, I don’t get to provide commentary on the movement. I have been a beneficiary of the progress that the civil rights movement brought about without doing anything to contribute. Even now I am not doing all that is in my capability to contribute. So who am I to comment on what is and is not appropriate for this movement. I am simply a supporter and observer.

I was able to find my voice yesterday and today after watching Hassan Minhaj’s video addressing the Asian community. And then again today when I was asked by a community member for advice on how parents can talk to their kids about everything that is happening. This pulled on my psychology knowledge and I found myself back in my element. In what I thought was going to be a quick answer, I found myself writing paragraphs and paragraphs. I can’t comment on how black people should be feeling or what they should be doing, but I can provide parenting support for those seeking to educate and guide their kids. That’s what I went to grad school for. I can do this at least.

In addition to amplifying Black voices, I have found these other avenues to contribute my own voice.

And after a full week of these ups and downs, I still feel like nothing is more jarring or heinous about these protests than the way our law enforcement has been acting.

I have been hesitant to make commentary online about the current Black Lives Matter chapter of the movement because I cannot handle the online comment wars on top of everything else. If you disagree with something I put on here, I guess by posting this I am inviting you to tell me about your disagreement. Just know that if I do not respond, it’s because I need to take care of my own mental health. I communicate better about nuanced issues like this in person, and trying to do it over text comments is too much for my brain to compute.

I do actively invite and welcome comments on my question of what to say. As a non-black person feeling outrage and pain, what can I possibly say to you, my black friend, family member, and fellow human that would feel helpful? How do I convey the love I feel for you and the empathy I carry in a way that lightens your load rather than piles on it?

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That’s it for today. I have three other posts covering my past three weeks that I’ll be posting over the next few days. Like I said before, I couldn’t in good conscience put up random posts of my nature walks and insights about #Quarantine without mentioning everything going on this past week. It didn’t feel right. Even now I feel somewhat uncomfortable posting about anything except this movement, but my other posts do still feel important to the goal of this blog, which is sharing my experiences as an American Muslim, and now also documenting what life under a pandemic looks like. We’ve got a final week of Ramadan post, Eid post, and traveling during coronavirus post (because yes, that happened). After that, I’ll be back to talking about current events in my life. Who knows what next week will bring.

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