I come from a privileged Francophone community in Lebanon. This has meant that I have always seen France as my second home. The streets of Paris are as familiar to me as the streets of Beirut. I was just in Paris a few days ago.
These have been two horrible nights of violence. The first took the lives of over 40 in Beirut; the second took the lives of over 120 people and counting in Paris.
It also seems clear to me that to the world, my people’s deaths in Beirut do not matter as much as my other people’s deaths in Paris.
We do not get a “safe” button on Facebook. We do not get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users.
We do not change policies which will affect the lives of countless innocent refugees.
This could not be clearer.
I say this with no resentment whatsoever, just sadness.
It is a hard thing to realize that for all that was said, for all the progressive rhetoric we have managed to create as a seemingly united human voice, most of us members of this curious species are still excluded from the dominant concerns of the “world”.
And I know that by “world”, I am myself excluding most of the world. Because that’s how power structures work.
I do not matter.
My “body” does not matter to the “world”.
If I die, it will not make a difference.
Again, I say this with no resentment.
That statement is merely a fact. It is a political fact, true, but a fact nonetheless.
Maybe I should have some resentment in me, but I am too tired. It is a heavy thing to realize.
I know that I am fortunate enough that when I do die, I will be remembered by friends and loved ones. Maybe my blog and an online presence might even gather some thoughts by people around the world. That is the beauty of the internet. And even that is out of reach to too many.
Never so clearly as now have I understood what Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about when he spoke of the Black Body in America. I think there is a story to be told of the Arab Body as well. The Native American Body. The Indigenous Body. The Latin American Body. The Indian Body. The Kurdish Body. The Pakistani Body. The Chinese Body. And so many other bodies.
The Human Body is not one. It sure feels that it should be by now. Maybe that in itself is an illusion. But maybe it is an illusion worth preserving because without even that vague aspiration towards oneness on the part of some part of the body, I am not sure what sort of world we would be living in now.
Some bodies are global, but most bodies remain local, regional, “ethnic”.
My thoughts are with all the victims of today’s and yesterday's horrific attacks, and my thoughts are with all those who will suffer serious discrimination as a result of the actions of a few mass murderers and the general failure of humanity’s imagination to see itself as a unified entity.
My only hope is that we can be strong enough to generate the opposite response to what these criminals intended. I want to be optimistic enough to say that we are getting there, wherever “there” might be.
We need to talk about these things. We need to talk about Race. We just have to.