The Chapel Hill Shooting in North Carolina has sparked a fair share of debate and controversy. Is it merely a parking dispute or is it a hate crime? Can non-Muslims commit hate crimes? Is it even possible for a Muslim to be a victim? Wherever you stand on the issue doesn't really bother me because my main concern wasn't the cause of the murder (it is so obvious) but rather how the Muslim victims will be remembered in mainstream news? Will their short lives be honored and get the right amount of airtime or will they barely be mentioned?
Basically I hoped major American news networks would treat the murdered students Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor 21 and Razan, 19, Abu-Salha as though they were white. I wanted a montage to celebrate and honor their exceptional lives as the upstanding citizens they were with their bright futures and charitable spirits. I wanted the works; home videos of their childhood, interviews with their friends and families and tear-jerking sappy music in the background. I wanted the media to demonstrate how truly tragic the loss of the 3 is. I wanted Americans to watch and weep and perhaps question their gun policies. After all it is said the shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, is an angry fellow with a gun on him at all times. I mean if this isn't a red flag factory I don't know what is.
Obviously, major news networks have let me down but, thankfully, we have social media. Although I'm well aware of the negative side to social networks; how they can incite hate and promote bigotry. Here are some of my personal favorites regarding the recent events: "Has hunting season opened in North Carolina?" "3 down....x many to go" "Muslims need to leave our country we don't want any of you here" poignant I guess.
The upside though has been crucial to humanizing Muslims over the recent years. Traditional media forums like radio and television aren't necessarily the most generous with positive portrayals of Muslims. Don't even get me started on blockbuster movies, roles available to me are limited to burka lady number 1 or burka lady number 2. Considering they'd even hire a Middle Easterner for the role.
This is why I thought this story would be perfect. Giving the media all it required to show some positive stereotypes of religious Muslims instead I stumbled upon "Inside Edition" reporting this tragic death by providing viewers with a segment on parking, yes you read correctly here is some advice on how to park at the mall. You know why? Because the white anchor and the white viewers will relate a lot more to the frustration of the white shooter then with a hijab wearing Muslim. I mean he is white so he must have killed them for a good reason, we all know parking can drive us over the edge. I honestly thought it was a joke when I first watched this clip.
I even laughed out loud thinking it was satire but was shaken to the core to find it was real. Turns out the media isn't lacking positive stories about Muslims that isn't the issue, the issue lays in how do we make that news worthy, Parking on the other hand is something we can all relate to.
Over the past few days the hashtags #muslimlivesmatter #alllivesmatter were overwhelmingly trending and I have been using similar hashtags but ones a little more accurate #muslimliveshouldmatter #alllivesshouldmatter because the truth is they don't. Just like the innocent Muslim lives that were lost during the atrocious September 11 attacks on the twin towers. Muslim Americans working side by side with other American. This is a harsh reality for me to deal with; another indication that we are not all made equal and my life isn't as valuable. You'd think my ability to tan would get me a few extra points.
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