Friday, July 22, 2005

Oh My God...

I am frightened, not just by terrorist acts, but by these possibilities:

1. We can assume that suicide bombers become suicide bombers, willing to kill and die for a cause they strongly believe in, having been thoroughly indoctrinated in that belief.

2. We know that extreme religion, whether Islam, Judaism, or Christianity, is usually the spur for violent behavior in defense of that religion's tenets.

3. We know that both sides of an issue decry extreme behavior in opposition to an issue, whether it is action taken by an individual or small group, or large-scale action, with government imprimatur.

4. We know, or perhaps we choose to forget, that desperation from oppression, poverty, hunger, or brutality, is a greater threat than political or religious zeal. Anyone with nothing to live for is not afraid to die.

One of the four men identified in the London bombings, Germaine Lindsay, was a Black man of Jamaican parentage. His mother, the duaghter of af a Christian evangelical, converted to Islam at her son's urging. Islam is not a common religion among the former British colony. Many Jamaicans are staunchly conservative, having been raised with very British values. Certainly, this could have changed through the generations. I'm speaking as a nearly-forty daughter of a 70-something Jamaican woman. But, aside from tourist enclaves like Negril and Montego Bay, Jamaicans are pretty cut-and-dried about their morality. The openly-gay leader of Jamaica's only LGBT organization was found murdered, and the police have done little to find his killer. You do the math. But, I digress.

Stories on the 'net all describe this young Jamaican man as a convert at 15, who fully embraced himself in the religion, trying to convert his friends. What was it that he embraced so strongly? What was it that embraced him? Was there something that made him forget his working-class upbringing by his mother, without his father's presence? Was there something that made him forget the smashing of the windows of his house as a Black child in a nearly all-White working class neighborhood? Was there acceptance of his love of a White woman, who would bear his children? What made this 19-year-old father of one, with another on the way, decide to bomb a train full of people?

I've been thinking strongly about who should be feared, and it can't be narrowed down to Muslims. Remember, when you have nothing to live for, you're not afraid to die. So, should society fear these people:

-- The Black Man: he has been feared and vilified on the shores of the Caribbean, Latin America, and North America. Defined by America's forefathers as three-fifths of a person, portrayed as a sexual predator hunting pure, undefiled White women, ghettoized, treated to prison instead of opportunity, subject to scrutiny should he exhibit signs of propserity, profiled as criminal.
--The Black Woman: forced to raise the sons and daughters of White America and serve as sexual playthings for their White fathers, turned into doormats for Black men, frustrated by their mistreatment at the hands of White society, hypersexualized and objectified by pop culture, cursed for asserting their independence through mating-by-choice and independently-obtained wealth
--The immigrant, especially one from a non-English speaking country, and with brown or black skin, willing to work for pennies on the dollar in contrast to similarly-abled White men
--The man who identifies as gay or bisexual, subverting definitions of masculinity and femininity by assuming, in some cases, what is thought of as a female sexual role
--The woman who identifies as lesbian or bisexual, who also subverts definitions of masculinity and femininity by not making herself available to a male for mating, asserts herself without a male partner
--The unmarried, the non-Christian, the couple who chooses not to have children, the single parent, anyone who can be defined as other; i.e. not Christian, male, heterosexual, middle class, parent

How long? How long will these "others" embrace something that causes them to take extreme measures? How long before discrimination and oppression become so unbearable that dying becomes easier to bear than living? How long before these "others" are so fed up that they take to the streets in retaliation for day after day, and year after year or mistreatment? What will it take?

And how do we stop it? How do we find and stop the Germaine Lindsays? Oh, my God.


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