Muslim Student Association, Muhammad Hakeem Olajuwon, Theon discussed on Ask Me Another


You know you wrote about how much work you had to take on at Berkeley in the aftermath of 9 11 you and other students and the Muslim student association just took it upon yourself to do a lot of bridge building You hosted Friday prayers for the entire campus You held forums with all different kinds of speakers and groups And you said something that really stuck out to me about that experience and that year after 9 11 You said it was quote training ground An X-Men danger room simulation that would prepare you for the rest of your life Explain Yeah that's I mean you become overnight the Muslim firemen you become the Muslim walking Wikipedia You become the person if you're thrust in that spotlight where you have to be an expert on the drop of the dime on all things Muslim and Islam and grand Cherie are often Muhammad Hakeem olajuwon like not Hakeem not hame Everything Bollywood Hummus Hamas like everything You know here I have this 20 year old undeclared student playing NBA two K next thing you know I'm giving speeches in front of 200 people And as I have the microphone and given the speech I'm like why am I sitting here giving a speech What's happening And overnight you get thrust like our parents generation You get you know you get thrust into the moment right You have to meet the moment And you have to then play the stupid condemn Theon game condemning violent accident by violent people you've never met And you've got to be perfect And if you're not perfect not only are you indicted by this nameless judge or an executioner that 20 years after 9 11 still holds your loyalty aspect simply due to your ethnicity or religion it condemns this whole thing called Muslims and Islam Because after 9 11 the enemy became this thing called Islam It became a civilizational conflict between us and them I'm using the language of our elected leaders at that time right The axis of evil And it wasn't just those who were Muslim and I'm glad you mentioned this earlier It was those who looked to Muslim me Sick Americans Indian Hindus Arab Christians right And so overnight you become an educator you become a bridge builder you become a apologist a defender but I don't want to play the apology game right It's exhausting and it's like humiliating But at the same time the people who did indulge in that you have to realize dude our communities were under fire There was like mass surveillance like NYPD now that we know this right did mass surveillance everywhere insidiously in the moss on the street everywhere Students student groups grocery stores and then their list of looking at traits of radicalization which is hilarious is if a man has a beard if a woman has is wearing a hijab If they eat halal meat that's like you just described like a Brooklyn hipster It's ridiculous Like Jada pinket Smith because of her hair condition That she's wearing a hijab and suppose she goes into meat Congratulations You're gonna now see your SS suspect First they came for the Muslims last had nothing Then they came for Jada And I was like no She got entangled There you go Yeah So you said that your experience after 9 11 and organizing was a training ground But I wonder now 20 years later what did that training not prepare you for That training doesn't prepare you to invest in joy to think about your long-term health and the dreams that sometimes get deferred That training does not prepare you for the crushing realization that sometimes no matter how hard you work like we mentioned before you'll be dealing with the same demons 20 years later You know that the demons will simply evolve and mutate You know white rage never sleeps It'll always fight back The work is ongoing It never stops You can't just rest right And I think for many of us we're like oh if we just put in all this time and effort things will get better And they have in many regards But you always have to keep moving or else you stop you get lazy you get complacent and you die And in some cases literally Well you know what I felt reading about your experience doing all of that activism and organizing to be a good Muslim What you realize and what a lot of activists have said in the last few years is at some point you're tired and you can not do it all and you have to stop and take care of you You know it's like there will always be an issue to organize around There will always be a march to attend There will always be an in some inequity to fight to fix but also maybe you could just take a nap Like that's allowed And I will say you know I have covered activism and activists on and off throughout my time as a journalist This latest crop they believe in self care and I'm like good for you You should Life is long and hard You said and I am investing in that early like I almost died It's in the book And I realize you know oftentimes we measured success our generation Through martyrdom Our success was look how many arrows I took for you Look how I suffer Look how you bleed Look I'm dead And I said I don't want you dead I want you to live long And so what I really invest in in the last few years especially during trumpism every time I'm inviting these spaces I always tell people invest in joy you have to make the intention and almost like exercise you have to put in the discipline You have to say like I deserve to be happy And if I invest in joy and find joy it means that I'm happy my family's happy the.

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