I haven’t posted on my blog for a while. At some point I ran out of energy. Stopping wasn’t really a decision – it just kind of happened. A couple of people mentioned that they hadn’t seen anything for a while and asked if I had stopped. A couple of others have said that given the political and social atmosphere these days the stories I have to tell need to be told. That may or may not be true. What I think is not important. Some of the issues are.
What has been on my mind most recently has been directly related to the context I am grateful to be in – Trinity Lutheran Congregation in the Minneapolis neighborhood Cedar-Riverside, aka Little Mogadishu. I have been pondering my privilege particularly in the midst of racism and Islamophobia. I just finished a book, So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oulo. I encourage others to read it. This book has touched me and I can’t get it out of my head.
And I have seen Facebook posts that I have not been able to ignore. I have posted responses and those who know me well would know that is just not like me. But I can’t not. One post was racist and I commented. None of the responders to my comment agreed. Some of them questioned either my intelligence or sanity. Some of them were sure I was racist. In that racism is systemic I agreed that I was by virtue of my white skin. That’s where the writer stated that I sickened her. To me those seemed like some pretty strong words about someone she had never met. It also made me think I had struck a nerve. Given the atmosphere of the times, though, those words could have been much more offensive.
Another post was anti-Muslim. The person who posted it on Facebook claimed to have been looking for more information that would prove that the topic of an article was not true. The Title of the article alone, however, was meant to further misinformation, fear and hate. Judging by the initial comments, it did just that. That is all it takes and then it gets shared. The article was about a radical group claiming to follow Islam. Once again the words ‘disgusting’ and ‘horrible’ were used regarding Muslims. I am quite sure that those who wrote those words know little or nothing about Islam and have never talked with any Muslims. The Muslims I know would never condone anything that the article was talking about and would be equally disgusted by it.
One thing that I noticed was how strongly this post hit me. It was almost as if it knocked the breath out of me. Not because of the content. That article had made the rounds some time ago; I had read it then. I told Bob that this hateful article about a radical group was suggesting that all Muslims would engage in what this article was about. That meant those reading the article would knowingly or unknowingly be including my friends and colleagues – Fardosa, Wali, Sharif, Nadifa, Abdisalam, Ayan, Fayo, to name just a few.
My privilege here is that I don’t have to live with the hate and fear every day. I don’t have people telling me to go back to where I came from as I walk or at the store. I have never been yelled at for wearing a ring with a cross on it. There aren’t people who hate me simply because I’m white or Christian. So, if I want to, I can ignore all of it. Too often I do.
But my friends can’t. They have to live with it, day in and day out. Waiting for a bus. Shopping. In public speeches. I cannot fathom this reality at the moment.
I don’t know where this pondering will all go for me. Perhaps nowhere. But it has been on my mind and heart and whether it is obvious or not, something in me has been changed, again.
Original Journal Entry: 8/26/19
Copyright Jane Buckley-Farlee 2019 All rights reserved.
At less than 4'11'' a pastor and the congregation she serves practice radical hospitality in a primarily Muslim neighborhood.