On this, the twentieth anniversary of 9/11/01, we are reflecting on how much the world has changed and yet in some ways has stayed the same. For Rising Voices, where we organize and develop the leadership capacity of pan-Asian American women, gender non-conforming, and femme-identifying folks in Michigan, we feel this day of mourning, pain and loss for all those who suffered in the aftermath of the attacks here in the US and resulting military actions abroad is too complex a topic to offer a general statement.
Here are some perspectives shared by staff and board members:
Field Organizer Munni Rahman: “I remember being scared and confused, feeling like we had been attacked. But, then, I remember feeling that sense of we changing over time, and beginning to feel more and more othered. I was afraid for my mother and friends who wear hijab and burkas in public, and I felt it was unfair that some of us who are Muslim but don’t wear headscarves didn’t experience the same kind of name calling and abuse that others experienced. This actually led me to commit to wear hijab, in solidarity with other Muslims.
I remember being in flight school at the time, and having another student in my class who spoke English with an accent being told he couldn’t fly anymore by flight control. I got to take his place because I don’t speak English with an accent.”
Board Member: “I’ve always felt “othered,” and don’t feel like 9/11 was a marker of “otherness,” for me as it was for others, but rather a spotlight on our communities. It’s hard for me to process everything, and manufacture mourning for a situation so complex, where in addition to feeling for those who lost their lives here I have also seen first hand the devastation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of US forces.”
Executive Director Laura Misumi: “As Japanese American, I remember my family and community feeling increasing unease with how our peoples’ incarceration during WWII was being used to justify incarceration, detention, and rendition of our Muslim, Arab, and South Asian siblings. I was proud of my community for recognizing in that moment something being done to others that had been done to us, and become activated.”
We are, and are descended from, those who have fled war, and we know the devastation and consequences of US military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, not to mention in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, the Philippines, Japan.
Rising Voices remains grounded in our values of abolition and collective liberation, and we oppose US militarism at home and abroad.