Paint It Right: A Response to Whites’ Selective Grief Over ISIS Atrocities

November 15, 2015.

Why now? Why do we choose to mourn ISIS atrocities now? Today? I stand with the people of Paris, but I also stand with the people of Beirut who are recovering from an ISIS attack just three days ago. Why didn’t I hear about that all over the news? Why didn’t Facebook give me the option to temporarily color my profile picture red, white, and green?

There have been five ISIS attacks in the past two months. How is it that I have heard little to none about any except for Paris, which is now flooding our media? I stand with the people of Paris. I grieve for the 100+ lives that have been so mercilessly taken from the world and the many more who have been affected. My soul is tearing into hundreds of pieces for those lives, but it has been ripping into thousands more shards for the lives for whom we have chosen not to mourn. I am enraged and enraptured with grief.

Those other four attacks conducted by ISIS in the past two months have been on nations that are not white, Eurocentric, imperialist, “first world” empires. Huh. My lifeless laughter drips with tired sarcasm and disdain. Why do we continue to raise up the white life? And why do we have more empathy for people living across an ocean than we do for our own neighbors? Why hasn’t Facebook given me the option to paint my profile picture black in solidarity with every black life that has been attacked in the mighty United States of America? Why do we continue denouncing ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ and promoting ‪#‎AllLivesMatter‬ if we so clearly do not believe this? We selectively grieve for white lives only, and we are blind. We might as well paint our profile photos white every time we choose to mourn instead of continuing to mask our selective grief and outrage with the colors of flags soaked in privilege and the blood of other peoples.

My heart hurts, and here I am – a white person safely sitting on a couch pleading with the internet to open its eyes and give a fucking damn.

“Later that night
I held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?
it answered
-Warsan Shire (from What They Did Yesterday)



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