This weekend will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shook America to its very core on September 11th, 2001.
It is a day that no American can ever forget, and a day that will forever frame the lives of the young people of our generation. We barely know a world without 9/11; without the never-ending wars in the Middle East, or the dehumanizing security check points at our airports, or the insidious anti-Brown, anti-Muslim sentiment that continues to permeate sociopolitical discourse in America.
Suheir Hammad’s incredible poem “First Writing Since” rings in my head whenever I think of 9/11. It captures both the abject horror of that tragic day, and the dark, enduring legacy of often self-inflicted persecution and confusion it left in its wake.
It speaks to everyday people recognizing the humanity in their fellow man, regardless of color or creed; and it laments the state-sanctioned racism and thoughtless, perspective-less violence that missed the point entirely. Please take a moment and listen to her powerful plea for understanding.
there is life here. anyone reading this is breathing, maybe hurting,
but breathing for sure. and if there is any light to come, it will
shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and justice after the
rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has risen.
Born in Jordan to Palestinian refugees, and raised in Brooklyn, Hammad espouses a perspective vital to the healing that could have taken place in the aftermath of that day. We took no time for self-reflection. We spent nary a moment seeking out the common fears and common truths in the eyes of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East; or even our neighbors across the Brooklyn Bridge, for that matter.
We struck out with our might, blasting and stomping, pounding and pummeling. Ten years later we shot down Osama Bin Laden, but that was never the solution, was it? And if it was, why haven’t we healed? Why haven’t we learned anything?
we got to carry each other now.
you are either with life, or against it.
This weekend, you’ll probably think of where you were when you heard. Or conjure those horrific images that are undoubtedly still seared into your subconscious. We’ll mourn for the many lives lost on that day, and the many lights extinguished in the years that followed.
But also mourn for the missed opportunities, misplaced anger and the many wasted years. And pray for the awakening of compassion, understanding and community that is now well-past due.