Today is the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the US. The media and the blogosphere are abuzz with news and specials, with memory and memorials.
I was in college 10 years ago, planning a career in science. My whole life has changed since then. My entire politicization happened in the context of September 11th, and the ensuing wars. As a young South Asian woman, that context was intimately personal. My family, my friends, my politics, and even own skin were points of reckoning in this contextualization.
I have so many charged emotions about this day, as a person of South Asian descent, as an immigrant to the US, as a woman. Today, my reflections are intensely concentrated around the idea of war and what it means to have spent most of my adult, politically-aware, life in a country at war with people who look like I do.
Today, I’m thinking about lives lost and lives changed : the people who died in the attacks 10 years ago, their families, the US soldiers who have died in the wars in the Middle East, their families, the people in Iraq and Afghanistan who have died, and their families. The costs in human life and in money are tremendous. But what seems lost, at least to me, in the mainstream analysis, is how these losses are all interconnected, and trying to understand what kind of effect being at war for 10 years can have on our social fabric.
As I look to the brave men and women of the Arab world, who are resisting tyranny, I see in them what I see in immigrants rights activists who are camped at the US/Mexico border trying to bring attention to the migrant deaths occuring there. When I work with reproductive justice advocates working across racial lines to challenge the hateful billboards targeting women of color and their right to control their fertility, I think of the women of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir square – all of us fighting for ownership of our bodies and our minds.
These connections, these constellations of resistance, are what sustain me. Today, I feel connected to all those who have experienced loss and are able to translate that experience into political solidarity. When everything around us pushes us to become stingy with our love and narrow-minded in our politics, challenging insularity and isolationism by standing next to someone who has also experienced loss is my deepest source of hope.
Suheir Hammad’s words on war come back to me every September and so I’ll leave you with them now: