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September 04, 2018 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com






4C — Fall 2018

When Justice Isn’t Served

NARMEEN REHMAN
MiC Contributor

I pin my scarf around my
hair until it feels secure. The
night is still as the call for
prayer (athan) sings through
my phone — I close my eyes
and take a deep breath of
the warm June air. I exhale
to the cadence of the athan,
renewing a sense of calm and
strength in my body after
a long day of fasting. As I
walked down the road to my
mosque, I reflect on the feel-
ing of security underneath
the crescent moon of a Rama-
dan night.
I’m sure Nabra Hassanen felt
the same.

The headlights of a car
zipping around the corner
interrupt my daze and I pick
up my pace in a small panic,
remembering the heartbreak
that occurred almost a year
ago.
Earlier that day, I came
across a video of Nabra

Hassanen’s father responding
to questions about the brutal
murder of his daughter. My
heart ached for him and I
could see my own father in
his cries. Last Ramadan, she
was killed by Darwin Torres
while walking to her mosque
after an early morning suhoor
(breakfast) with her friends at
McDonald’s, a spot my friends
have frequented at the brink
of dawn during our Ramadan
nights. That could’ve been
any of my friends leaving the
McDonald’s parking lot to
not return again. This cut felt
deep. It was personal.
It has been almost one year
since Nabra Hassanen’s father
called for justice in the name
of his daughter, believing
there is no doubt that she was
targeted because she wears
hijab.
Instead, the news was
quick to call it “road rage.”
Torres grabbed a bat from

his car and furiously beat her
face unrecognizable and the
news said it was “it wasn’t
about her.”
He ripped her hijab off,
carried her limp body deep
into the woods to assault her,
and the police were quick to
state it was “not a hate crime.”
sure, it could have been
road rage — but it also could
have been the same rage that
prompted an individual to set
her memorial ablaze.
This incident is far from
isolated. It reminded me
of years ago when bullets
ripped through the home
of three Muslims in North
Carolina: Deah, Yusor, and
Razan. Their execution-
style deaths were attributed
to a parking dispute. When
you witness and experience
discrimination firsthand,
these terms of prosecution
begin to seem naive.
This insidious hatred
doesn’t only target Muslim
communities, but those
marginalized across the
nation.
In order for a crime to be
classified as a hate crime, it
must show that the crime
clearly targets an individual
due to their characteristics.
However, to be a minority
in America is to know that
discrimination does not need
to be overt or blatantly stated
to be felt. To be a minority
in America is to watch as
the brutal murders of people
who look like us are lessened
to “coincidences” and are
abandoned in the rule of law.
We know damn well it’s no
coincidence.
We feel ourselves, our
families, and our friends
in each name that quickly
passes through the ticker
at the bottom of the news
screen. How many lives will
our communities lose to
ignorance and hatred that
will be labeled as else? Does
America sweep the targeting
of individuals on the basis
of religion, race, and sexual
identity under the rug so we
don’t have to address the

greater issue of toxic biases
in America? Why do we bury
hate under legal euphemisms
instead of calling it out as it
is?
In a call of remembrance
for Nabra and justice for the
many minorities that are
targeted on a daily basis in
America, I make a case for
the hate crime. There are
a number of reasons why
America is uncomfortable
labeling these offenses
as driven by hate. This
discomfort in itself is a sign
that we need to debate and
explore the semantics of them
more.
Legally, it is complicated.
Once it carries the label
of a hate crime, it elevates
a normal crime to a more
serious offense, requiring
greater attention from law
enforcement. Police often
aren’t trained on these
matters and there is no
uniform method to track and
handle these crimes.
Socially, it is a symbol. Hate
crimes say to criminals that
bigotry will not be permitted
in this community, state
or nation. To communities
targeted, it says that they
are heard, respected and
protected by the rule of law.
This begs the question — is
there a reason why we don’t
take the extra steps to make
minority communities feel
more safe and welcome?
One wrong interaction,
one wrong person to cross
paths with — this is all it
takes. When stories of hate
crimes air on the news,
they’re often followed by
my parent’s “This is why we
tell you to be careful.” But,
we both understand that no
matter how careful I am, I
can’t control those around
me. I can’t control someone
who wants to meet my beliefs
with a bullet, who sees my
brother’s skin color as a bulls-
eye or who wishes my friend’s
hijab were a noose. I’m afraid,
our communities are afraid
and it’s about time our laws
step up to protect us.

Creatives of Color: A
revolution in creative

When Drew Metcalf, an
LSA junior studying screen
arts and culture, submitted
his
project
proposal
to
optiMize’s Social Innovation
Challenge, he had no idea
he would end up forming
a
creative
expression
showcase that would impact
more than 150 students.
With a strong passion for
creativity and art, Metcalf
has a natural drive for
building
community,
cultural understanding and
confidence — all through
the power of expression.
With his new organization,
Creatives of Color, Metcalf
is using art to revolutionize
how students of color come
together.
The purpose of Creatives of
Color is to foster connections
among artists of color by
providing opportunities for
collaboration,
expression,
and networking. Its platform
is centered around providing
support and resources to
give students the freedom
and means to pursue their
creative initiatives.
Metcalf got his start from
optiMize, a social innovation
organization
dedicated
to
inspiring
students
to
initiate self-driven products
to work toward a more
sustainable world. Through
optiMize, Metcalf received
mentor support, visioning
workshops and an expansive
network to help him make
his mission a tangible reality.
To formally introduce his
organization, Metcalf held a
creative showcase April 11.
The showcase featured an
expansive range of art, such
as photography, animation,
singing, dance, and poetry.
It featured projects from
25 participants of varying
cultures, ages and majors,
adding to the diverse makeup
of projects presented.
In preparation for the
showcase,
Metcalf
said
he and his team randomly
paired
students
together
as he wanted to explore
the
creative
capacity
that
could
come
from
strangers. Metcalf and his
team
provided
guidance
and assistance to student
teams. He hoped students
would
feel
encouraged
and confident enough to

pursue creative means not
traditionally explored.
“We wanted to showcase
all kinds of art. When people
think of creative work, they
jump to music, poetry, and
dance. But, we also have
committees for other written
art,
like
journalism
and
creative writing,” he said.
Though
the
showcase
received
an
immensely
positive response, it did not
occur without setbacks and
moments of discouragement.
As the term went on, more
and more groups dropped
out due to academic demands
and other time restraints.
However, Metcalf stayed
optimistic,
commenting
even if two people showed
up to the showcase, as long
as everyone had fun, the
work would not go to waste.
“There were a couple of
times that I wanted to throw
in the towel … But my team
kept me grounded,” he said.
Drew’s
project
was
received
so
well
that
it
solidified
additional
funding, which will allow
the organization to continue
active
development
over
the summer. His summer
project
will
consist
of
building the social network
of professional and aspiring
creatives, striving to bridge
the gap between access to
resources and mentors.
With
this
amount
of
momentum,
it
is
clear
that
Creatives
of
Color
has a bright and eventful
future ahead. Future plans
include creative workshops,
collaborations,
exhibitions
and youth outreach. As the
organization is still in its
infancy, the possibilities are
wide open, and Metcalf is
ready to take them head-on.
“The cool thing about
(this project) is that there’s
so much room for creativity
and innovation. There are so
many things we can we can
do with this organization,
and the ideas keep coming.
I’m interested to see what
comes of it,” he said while
smiling.
Anyone
interested
in
getting
involved
with
Creatives of Color can join
their
Maizepage
group,
contact the group directly at
thecreativesofcolor@gmail.
com or fill out their EBoard
application.

NA’KIA CHANNEY
MiC Senior Editor

When standing up to white supremacy, every step matters

Every morning, I find myself
walking to class listening to
my favorite songs, watching
squirrels as they finesse food
from passersby and moving
around white people walking
in
my
direction
on
the
sidewalks. Before I noticed
this disturbing pattern of
mine, I always thought that
stepping out of the way for
oncoming
pedestrians
was
just the polite thing to do.
However, I recently noticed
that the oncoming traffic,
specifically when the person
was
white,
would
never
return the common courtesy
of stepping to the side when
I walked by. I began to ask
myself questions and wonder
if I was carrying out the same
subconscious behavior with
people of other races. So, I
decided to experiment a bit.
Whenever a person of color
walked by, I made space —
while carefully watching if
they would do the same. I
tried doing this with people
of color in large groups, small

groups and by themselves.
Each occurrence led to the
same outcome: mutual respect
for sidewalk space. This data
then led me to the belief that
this was a natural behavior
of only white people, notably
among white women.
After
coming
to
such
conclusion, I decided to try
something even riskier: not
move at all when white people
passed by. I thought perhaps
the confidence of a large,
stocky Black woman standing
her ground would make a
difference and would be a
call for change. But hell, was
I wrong. Instead of change,
I got shoulder bumped and
glared at, commonly followed
by snarky remarks such as,
“Watch where you’re going,”
“Wow that was rude” or “I
can’t believe she just did
that.” Of them all, it was the
repetitive comment of “I can’t
believe she just did THAT.”
Confused on what “that” was
referring to.
As
I
continued
my
investigation of this behavior,
I became aware of some
not-so-surprising history of

racial tensions and practices
of white supremacy. I was in
Associate Professor Stephen
Berrey’s
American
South
course when he started the
lecture by talking about the
more blatant and explicit
forms
of
Jim
Crow
and
racial superiority. He then
clicked on a slide informing
the class about more subtle
practices in Southern states.
He went on to state that “the
expectation that Black people
would step off the sidewalk
for approaching white people
was a common custom across
the South that had extended
back into the days of slavery
(in which enslaved people
were expected to step off).
The incident (that exemplifies
this was) in Danville, Va.,
in 1883 during an election
year in which many white
people were alarmed over
growing Black political power
and fears that Black people
considered
themselves
the
social equal of white people
— as evidenced by the refusal
to perform expected roles.”
And
many
decades
later,
during the Jim Crow era,

Black people continued to
step off the sidewalk when a
white person were to walk in
their direction. Otherwise as
noted previously, if a Black
person failed to do so, they
were acting as defiant, uppity
and downright disrespectful.
Now
it
all
makes
sense.
This
demonstration
of
subservience during such a
simple thing like walking on
the sidewalk was not and is
not my fault. Instead, it is
deep-rooted racism and white
supremacy
among
white
people that led me to feel
inferior, just as my ancestors
felt during the Jim Crow era,
and much earlier.
But wait — there’s more.
I didn’t just notice this flat-
out disrespect and sense of
superiority on the University
of Michigan’s campus.
I’ve experienced it in the
halls of high schools, where
younger
white
students
would do the same thing.
I’ve experienced it walking
downtown Detroit, a place
where many white people
dramatically state that they
are afraid to go, yet there they
are, subtly enforcing white
supremacy. I’ve experienced
it in grocery stores, malls
and just about anywhere you
could think of.
But now, I don’t move. I
don’t budge. I don’t care. I
don’t care whose shoulder I
bump into, whose avocado
matcha smoothie I spill or
whose day I ruin. Why?
Because every day that this
continues to happen to other
students,
especially
Black
students, the more embedded
and unnoticed it becomes,
and the further it goes. So
now when you see me walking
and I don’t move, do not think
it is because I am just another
stuck up Black girl with an
attitude, know it’s because I’m
sick and tired and a change is
bound to come. One step at a
time.

ROSEANNE CHAO / DAILY

CHARDE MADOULA-BEY
MiC Contributor

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