Mourning, Intersectionality, and Hope
Part II: Don’t Be Selective

We have been focusing our  vigils on  shedding light in places where the inquiry and fervor of the media does not go. To vigil means to “pay attention” and to be “watchful.” Members of our diverse community are often directly affected by violence in contexts which are largely ignored by the media. On 4/16, members of EKTA, the South Asian Student organization, came forward to both mourn and protest the violence in Pakistan where a terror attack took place on Easter Sunday. Below are the opening remarks from Matilda Cantwell and the words from one of the student speakers, Mahnoor Latif, who shared her powerful statement.

Opening Remarks by Matilda Cantwell

I am honored to be part of a community that is not silent about things that matter, and yet calls for moment’s silence –like the one being called for today–about the things that do. I am also deeply saddened for the reason we are here, almost beyond words, about the suffering we are called here to confront.

I call us into both a content warning and a call to courage… We are called both to take care of our most precious resource-our selves—and to keep our eyes open to see  what the juggernaut of society would have us ignore…

Just after the attack in Brussels, 40 people were killed in a suicide bombing near Bagdad. On the Christian commemoration of Easter  Sunday, over 70 people were killed  via bomb in Lahore, Pakistan, in a park, many of whom were children…also in March there was an attack in  Tunisia that killed 45. In January, 90 people were killed by rocket propelled grenades and suicide bombers in Nigeria…

I call us into gratitude, for the students who have chosen to bring us together. We need not be alone now isolated by bewilderment and suffering.

I call us into hope—for when we acknowledge and grieve together, we  put a small obstacle in the way of this juggernaut—we  put a kink in the fabric of ignorance, media xenophobia,  euro-supremacy…We  begin to claim our citizenship in not only our social networks, our commutes—but the world.

Organizers of today’s vigil call us to be indiscriminant where the mainstream is discriminant, universally caring where the mainstream is selective…choosing to turn our gaze to Paris ,only glance at Beirut. Grieve for Brussels, tune out Baghdad…

We are an international community—and we have brothers and sisters who make their home in Europe, and those whose most beloved place is Iraq, Pakistan, West Africa, North Africa, and so many other places…and we are a community that does not gather to mourn only at 9-11 and the Paris attacks. We keep vigil when there is suffering…

To vigil means to stay watchful, to pay attention. We invite you know to watch, listen, and speak in this spirit. By being here, you are refusing to be complicit in the forces of selective mourning…

Statement by Mahnoor Latif

Hi everyone. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Mahnoor Latif and I am a senior from Lahore, Pakistan. Lahore, my hometown, was the victim of one of the most recent attacks. Can you imagine, waking up hearing about an attack and wondering if your family is alive. Whether the last time you meet them in winters was the last memory you’ll have of them? That’s how I felt that day.  It was on 27th March that this attack took place at Gulshan -e – Iqbal park, a park where families had gone to celebrate Easter.  It was just like any other day until it wasn’t. Until it became not just an ordinary park but a bloodbath. Approximately, 72 people have been killed and at least 300 injured. Most of these numbers include children, who lost their lives and families that day. The effects of the attack is still ongoing with countless people hospitalized and ironically the media is silent about it. That is why we are gathered here today.

Why is it that the attack did not have any coverage? Why is it that people did not immediately voice their sympathies and condolences? I waited that day and those to follow, for addresses from political leaders but alas there were none. Apart from a select few no one was bothered. Why is it that when an attack happened in Brussels or Paris the whole world was in uproar but not when it happened in Lahore or Baghdad? The only reason I could think of was because people simply don’t care. Unless its a developed country like the US, UK or countries in Europe no one really wants to hear about any other country. By not saying anything you have created a hierarchical system for death! So, those who die in a developed country are somehow more worthy of condolences but those who die in a third world country deserve no recognition! Why are we being so selective in our sympathies? Is one life really more valuable than another? Will you not show the same amount of sympathy as you did for those who died in Brussels? Where are the lit up monuments, the outrage because innocents were killed? Where is everyone? In a world that is ruled by technology, there is no mention of incidents in developing countries. I typed in Lahore attacks into google yesterday and the only news that came up was from Pakistani channels but when you type in Brussels attack, you get a bombardment of information. I ask you, why are we letting the media do this? If its simply about stats, then most attacks happen in Muslim- majority countries with the highest number of deaths.

Our generation is so vocal about everything but not when asking for solidarity! Why are we saying that its ok to mourn some lives and not others? Why are we saying it’s OK to have more news about celebrities and who they’re dating than about attacks in third world countries? We are so quick to condemn terrorists but not brave enough to show compassion towards the very people who are a victim to those attacks. It is heart wrenching to realize that people are selective in who they mourn simply because of which country they live in. My family could have easily died that day if that attack happened in any other part of the city and no one would have known because the media didn’t cover it. No one at Smith, would have known either a part from the Pakistani’s because they would asked. I would be considered heartless if I didn’t show sympathy towards those who died in Brussels or Paris but apparently the same doesn’t apply to others. We should not be selective in who you mourn because NO ONE deserves to die like this whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or of any other race, religion, color, or country. This is where humanity is lost: when we refuse to act like humans and when we are more intent on playing the blame game rather than standing in solidarity with fellow human beings.

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