On Friday evening, after the second suspect in the Boston marathon bombings had been caught, President Obama took to a podium, and said the following:
That American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong — like no other nation in the world. In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions. But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right. That’s why we have investigations. That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts. That’s why we have courts. And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.
The thing is: people actually had jumped to conclusions, fueling both suspicion and violence across the country. Multiple social networks and communities on the internet began to conduct their own searches for suspects in photographs. Most of these “suspects” turned out to be brown people with bags. Some people were identified solely by color or by supposed nationality. Some people were identified by name, and their names spread publicly and quickly, without hesitation. Worst of all, real people were attacked. Subtle and open aggression powerfully shaped lives this week.
We know that the creation of unsafe conditions for people of color, immigrants, Muslims – among others – does not appear out of thin air, informed by rationality or reality. They are a product of power and fear. Every geopolitical event of this sort has put whole communities on edge, anxious about the backlash against them. And while hate crimes get documented, the more subtle interactions of fear and hostility can slip through.
All week, from the coming Monday to Friday, we hope to publish submissions of incidents related to the recent attacks experienced by South Asians, Muslims, immigrants, and people of color. For this, we are asking for your help.
If you have experienced an incident of this type, please submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. There are no limits on length or format. (Please put “week” into the subject of your email; they’ll be forwarded directly to editors, who will put them up as soon as they can.)
If you have not experienced an incident of this type, we ask that you share this with people you know. Use Twitter, Facebook, and any other social networks to spread the word!
Thanks for everything,