I’ve been sitting on this one ever since my brother texted me on Tuesday that an Ayub Uncle from the community was shot and killed. I asked if he came over on Eid. We couldn’t remember if he was there. We think his wife and kids came over. So many come by my folks’ place on Eid; I can never remember all the faces.
I’ve been sitting on this one because it struck me that my Facebook newsfeed was in mourning – but the only people mourning for Ayub Uncle were other Bangladeshi Floridians, or their spouses.
But no other U.S. Muslims in my Facebook newsfeed except for two non-Bangladeshi Muslims. No other Floridian Muslims or other Floridians who were posting only months ago about #MSDStrong and the terrifying culture of U.S. gun violence that is unlike anywhere else.
Yes. Two of his kids are survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. And yes, I have my ideas as to why this is too complicated and messy of a story in terms of identity for why “Muslim America” is not clamoring about it — but I’ll let the experts in anti-racism activism parse that one out.
I’ve been sitting on this one because throughout elementary, middle, high school, and college — I’ve watched folks come to my parents to seek advice about what to do with the bodies of Bangladeshi immigrant store employees or employers who were shot to death — and what to do about the family they leave behind who often include a wife who doesn’t have access to a bank account and kids who are left with nothing. The usual conclusion is that the local Bangladeshi community raises money to help the bereaved family for awhile; sometimes that money is just enough for plane tickets back to Bangladesh.
And yet Bangladeshis keep immigrating to the U.S. to work in these small convenient stores because that’s what the people who came before them did. And they possibly remain in poverty, or they possibly get shot, or they possibly “make it” — and whatever the possibility, the work often entails selling merchandise to the poorest communities in the United States in which so much of what is sold is just straight up poison — and that slow poisoning of communities along with the quickness of violence and rottening of relationships between small immigrant-run businesses and the local patrons they profit off of is cyclical.
I’ve been sitting on this one because one elder posted that this is the 50th body that he has had to bury of a Bangladeshi Floridian who was shot to death in a store since he immigrated in 1981. And after the 50th body, although he has never supported the death penalty, he is tired and angry and sad and now wants “these animals” who kill “my brothers” to die on the chair.
It really hurt me to hear him say those words. Especially when we know statistically how structural racism shapes how justice and capital punishment works in the U.S. But maybe it’s just the moment, and maybe he’ll realize like my beautiful friend who had complete tawakkul when facing the man who killed her baby brother that another man’s death would do nothing to bring her brother back.
I’ve been sitting on this one because for years I’ve listened to other Bangladeshi elders tell their brothers and sisters — Allah has made the world a very big place. Allah’s sustenance is wide and generous. For all the haram ways to earn a living, Allah has created so much that is halal. Don’t poison your wealth. Don’t bring a gun into your home. People are dying. Your kids are dying. You are dying.
I’ve been sitting on this one because it’s the first time I’ve heard a Bangladeshi-American uncle openly tell his peers to assert their second amendment rights and carry a concealed weapon to protect themselves from the next violent robbery.
And I’ve been sitting on this one because I don’t even know where to begin except with Al-Fatihah.
But I’m all packed to travel outside the U.S. for a little bit to get some perspective again.
He did come by for Eid.