I have been very sad for the past few days. Every week it seems that I hear of innocent African Americans killed, hurt, humiliated by police in seemingly every state from New York to California, from Texas to Minnesota. I was shocked when I heard about Amy Cooper who threatened a nice black man who had reminded her to leash her dog that she would let the police loose on him. This is in New York City which we like to think of as an enlightened multicultural city in our divided country. Thank God the police did not attack him that day. But how is it that this woman knows and uses her white privilege, and her relationship to the protectors of white privilege, i.e. the police, to threaten and potentially endanger another human being? That same day a policeman put his knee for a full eight minutes on George Floyd’s neck killing him, while his partners looked on and the public standing around asked him to stop! It is outrageous, it is sickening, it is disgusting, it needs to stop. Five years ago, in 2015, the number of deaths was 1,134 according to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/31/the-counted-police-killings-2015-young-black-men , and it has only increased since then.
We are trained not to hate the haters, as it brings us down to their level of ignorance. So as I turned to spiritual teachers like Baba Yurdaer of Jerrahi Order of America and teach-in’s to seek hope, like Wearewasat.org, the sadness and rage remains, but a reassurance and hope emerged too. Baba Yurdaer reminded us to allow sadness but to also hold on to hope for transformation of those who have lost their souls, their humanity, and so easily take the lives of others. “Those who transgress the bounds of justice are those who are afflicted with a sickness of the heart” said the FB Live Homepage for Wearewasat.org. I listened with rapture to Dr. Bilal Ware as talked about the suffering for 400 years and more years of suffering of the African American race, the suffering in his own family, and the intertwined twin evils of racist violence and capitalist excess that sustain this suffering. He then shared examples of the prophets who in their time faced tyrants and oppression by staying true to their spiritual paths and practicing the values and ethics of human beings. He reminded American Muslims to clean their house first and get rid of the racism in our own hearts and not sit on the sidelines. He urged us to make our voices heard as an example and provide light and guidance. And I listened to Trevor Noah’s reflections which like Dr. Ware’s reflections reminded us that this is a transformative moment in time when a lot of good can be done if we all call forth our humanity and heed the calls to action. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=271504123969416. COVID-19 exposed the exploitation of the poor by the rich, and that is why the reaction this time is so strong and God Willing a turning point for our deprived (of humanity) society.
At this moment in time, we have an opportunity for a transformation. We need to take a stand for humanity and its values. We need to make our voices heard. We need to ally with groups leading the charge for change and who refuse to continue the “business-as-usual” approach. We need to say not to racism, whether in our living rooms or class rooms; please stop and challenge family and friends that blindly and casually repeat racist remarks; ask them to look into their hearts and develop compassion instead of condemnation. We all remember Reagan’s famous lie about “welfare queens” -how much damage was done by a terrible lie by a terrible leader, and the country is still reverberating to this day. There should be “universal human values” training in schools starting at a very young age, so that all children learn to be God’s children, loving and kind towards all, curious to learn from differences not hate them, and caring for all of God’s creations. All faiths and humanitarians agree on that at least, so let’s put our heads together and develop nobler hearts and souls so that we develop a fairer and more humane society.