Hijabi Diaries Special: From Bystanders to Up-Standers
This episode of the Hijabi Diaries includes discussion of the 2016 Presidential election, in particular President Donald Trump. The Hijabi Diaries producers and Openhearted Campaign staff would like to point out that any of the political opinions expressed by those who were interviewed for this episode do not represent the political opinions or positions of the Hijabi Diaries or the Openhearted Campaign. We are a campaign from Muslim Americans, for all Americans, and claim no partisan positions.
CHECKING IN WITH ABI: NAVIGATING LIFE AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
It’s been a long time since the last installment of the Hijabi Diaries came out, and during that time some things have happened.
The most obvious thing that happened was the U.S. presidential election on November 9th, 2016.
Nearly every woman I’ve spoken to during the process of making the Hijabi Diaries has made a comment to me about how important the outcome of the 2016 presidential election would be to them, and to the future of their families if they planned to continue to live in America.
Much also hung in the balance for refugees attempting to make their way in to the US from war-torn, and Muslim-majority, nations.
I caught up with friend and Hijabi Diaries participant Abi just before the New Year, to talk about how she was feeling about the results of the election.
Abi invited me to talk to her at her house, which is part of a small neighborhood on the South West side of town, just outside the city limits. It’s a rural neighborhood, her house has plenty of backyard. The kids are at school, and the only company we keep are the two fat, long-haired cats sitting on the couches across from us.
Abi is wearing her characteristic purple horn-rimmed glasses, and bubbly smile. However, since we’re in her home, she isn’t wearing her hijab. It always takes me a moment to adjust to seeing my hijab-wearing friends without their hijabs. And after I do I feel strangely flattered or I guess touched that they are willing not just to host me in their home but to allow me to glimpse perhaps a more vulnerable side of them, that few other people get to see.
Abi and I chat for a moment, and then I ask her the obvious question – How is she feeling now that the election is over?
I ask her if she stayed up late on November 9th to watch the election coverage.
"I did," she says, "I just sat there on my phone and I just refreshed refreshed, refreshed. I watched the states go from blue back to red and back to blue again. And I was feverishly texting my friends at like one in the morning like “oh God! oh my God.
"My husband, finally he said 'I can't watch this anymore he's won,' and he went to bed. And I was just there by myself going “oh my God he's winning... this is the worst thing ever.”
The day of the election, Abi had an experience with a neighbor that started to make her question her safety.
She lives in a neighborhood where her family is the only Muslim family, and she says during the eight years they’ve lived in the neighborhood they’ve only been able to make friends with a handful of families who live in the neighborhood. But her neighbors always recognize her when she’s out mowing grass or letting the cats out, because of in her hijab.
"I know people see me and they recognize me as the Muslim element in the neighborhood.
But on that Tuesday you know it's getting around like time for my husband to come home and my daughter suddenly was like 'I want to let the cat outside!' And she flung open the front door and I was standing there, and as she flung open the door this man was driving by our house really, really slowly. He has entire body turns towards our house. It wasn't like he was looking for an address or anything.... I mean I guess it could have been .... but he had his entire body turned towards our house and was just glaring at our front door. It was just by chance that I opened up the door at that time and saw him. And it seemed very threatening to me."
Though the close-to-home nature of this incident makes it stick out in Abi's mind, this drive-by intimidation isn't the only time Abi has felt aggression from strangers. She feels it often when she's out in public.
"I just noticed that like since the election people are being very… very much more open about glaring when I'm in public spaces," Abi says, in a sort of frustrated disbelief.
"I've noticed that people turn in their seats to watch me walk through the place that I'm at. And even though I have had people like obviously try and be more friendly towards me, like smile and things like that, it's very unnerving to see that [other] people are like 'Ha! I have a right to be aggressively making somebody feel uncomfortable in the space that they're occupying!'"
"I went into a Muslim-owned restaurant the other day with my husband," Abi recalls. "And when I came into the restaurant it was like a very, very busy. [But] almost, I would say, two-thirds of the restaurant like turned around and just stared at me... like slack-jawed stared ... like I came in and a clown costume!"
Her friends have been victims of this intimidation, as well.
"Since the election I've had friends harassed and names screamed at them, you know. And of course you see things on the news where women are just attacked. There was a girl pushed down the stairs on the subway (December 2016, CBS News)."
V/O: There have been multiple incidents of mosques being attacked by gunmen, vandalized, or burned in America in the years since 9-11. On January 30th of this year, a Canadian gunman in Quebec City entered a mosque during prayers and open-fired, killing six brothers and seriously injuring eight others.
A report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center showed that there was a sudden rise in hate crime committed throughout the USA during the first 10 days after the 2016 presidential election.
Abi believes that the rise in hate crimes has to do with the election of President Donald Trump, who has made derogatory statements about multiple ethnic and racial groups throughout his campaign. Abi believes that many people with racist or xenophobic beliefs were emboldened by his election to the presidency, and that this emboldening led them to commit acts of terror and violence. She worries there will be more.
"So this is concerning for me," she says, "I went so far as to get my gun license and I have a legal right to carry handgun,"
"I do a concealed carry because I think personally that's more polite to the people around you," she says. "They don't need to feel threatened by your need to protect yourself.
"But... I am having a hard time finding a safety program. I have talked to several people that say 'Oh yeah I do safety gun training,' but it's like I don't know if you’re licensed, are you going to give me a thorough class? Like, I would like to feel really comfortable."
"But I don't know who to go to to have a safety class to talk about you know... What if I am involved in the shooting? How close I should let somebody get to me before I pull my weapon? I would like that I would really like [these things] as a person that has made the decision to carry a gun around.
So it’s kind of taking me to this place where I like 'who am I any more?' "
I wanted to know more about what made Abi believe she needed to carry a gun. I’ve known Abi for over a year now, so I knew there was no way she’d make this decision lightly.
"I had actually started to fill out my application for it before the election," she tells me, "and I was like you are being crazy."
"And then after the election with all these hate crimes and mosques being burned I was like 'you know...'" She pauses, smiling through her disbelief, in that way that you do when you can't believe what's happening. She's laughing at herself, but I can tell, she's really concerned about her situation.
"It's gotten to the point where I have been in the mosque and I've heard loud talking or something and I've been like 'oh my gosh is that somebody trying to break in here to mow us all down?'
"I just keep imagining like I'm going to be out with my kids somewhere and something somebody's going to try and make a scene or make me feel like I don't belong in a more aggressive way than just staring and I'm not going to be prepared. And at this point I'm like 'I am going to be prepared.'"
KEEPING EACH OTHER SAFE
After the election, something called the Safety Pin campaign began (New York Times, Nov 2016).
People across the United States starting wearing safety pins on their clothing everyday to announce their friends, neighbors, and complete strangers that they were a “safe” person to come to for support should anyone find themselves being harassed, or, like Abi, a victim of what are commonly referred to as "micro-aggressions."
Thousands of people around the country wear these Safety Pins, and their message seems to be uplifting for many who are, like Abi, otherwise scared or stressed out by world events these days.
Wearing a safety pin as a gesture of solidarity is all well and good, however, what does it take to actually stick up for your neighbor in situations of injustice, when there is aggression, harsh words, maybe even violence? What kind of chutzpah, and skills, does it take to back up that safety-pin promise? Can just anyone do it?
To find out, I went to talk to someone who has a lot of experience teaching people about bystander intervention.
Evelyn Smith is the Prevention Programs Coordinator at MiddleWay House, a domestic violence shelter that is also part rape crisis center, and part community resource/outreach center. Evelyn works with community groups in Bloomington, IN, on a variety of different topics, all surrounding the prevention of violence. She's taught a variety of groups around Bloomington, include school groups, bars, and co-operative living houses, about preventing violence, bullying and aggression through bystander intervention.
"Bystander intervention is generally thought of as when people overcome the "bystander effect,"" Evelyn explains. "[The Bystander Effect] is this idea that when multiple people see a bad thing happening none of them are likely to get involved. It's called the diffusion of responsibility. Everybody thinks someone else will handle it, or it's somebody else's job to handle it."
"The bystander effect in particular is pretty well studied," Evelyn says, "and that diffusion of responsibility term comes from studies where people identify lots of reasons why [the bystander effect] happens, but there are a couple of fairly common reasons they identify that they don't get involved, so :
1. They think it's somebody else's responsibility.
2. Even if they don't think it's somebody else's responsibility they think somebody else will do it.
3. They are legitimately afraid, especially when [they] see violence happening. They are afraid that the person is going to attack them, even if that’s really unlikely in a crowd."
"Bystander intervention is when we say that's not acceptable and we ourselves take responsibility for engaging any time we see something bad happening."
Evelyn explains how she teachers school children, professionals, and peers how to go from being "bystanders" in situations of injustice, to being what she calls "up-standers."
"So, in general," Evelyn explains, "we usually just ask people like 'do you feel like you should get involved when you see something bad happening?' and almost everybody says yes. People agree that like when bad things happen it's the responsibility of the community in general to step in and keep that from happening or to manage the negative effects of it happening. People agreed about the community responsibility.
"So the question isn't necessarily about convincing people they need to, it's giving them the skills they need to [be an up-stander].
"And so like, I like to do a five step process," Evelyn says.
STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO UP-STAND
Imagine you're witnessing a situation where someone is being bullied, harrassed, or where something is happening, in front of you, to another individual, that you don't feel is right. Evelyn takes us through what to do from here.
"One is: Identify that something bad is happening. We talk to people about how do you how do you notice when something is unacceptable?
So we talk about sexual violence… what does it look like when a person is not comfortable? When is consent not being practiced? What kind of body language is really common?"
"Second step is: Assess the situation to figure out if it's safe to get involved.
And if not, what might be some alternatives to [direct involvement]?
"The third step is: coming up with a specific strategy, how you engage and interrupt the situation.
"There are a couple of different strategies we could [use]…
We talk about the 3DS : Direct Action, Delegation, and Distraction."
I asked Evelyn to go explain the 3 D’s a little more for me, the three D’s being her main strategy tools for upstanding: Direct Action, Delegation, and Distraction.
"So we talk about Direct Action which is often the simplest," Evelyn says.
"An example we tend to give especially when I work in schools is if you see a bully harassing your friend you step in and tell the bully 'Hey, that's not okay.' [You] get in-between them, inserting yourself directly into the situation, telling someone that that's not ok.
"So Delegation is getting someone else involved, right? It could be a group of people, it could be a single person.
Often the three common people that we say you might get involved are friends of the person who's being targeted, friends of the person who is targeting them - because it's also a lot of social pressure you can put on in there - and then an authority figure and it's in school that might be a principal or a teacher.
"And the last thing, Distraction, we talked about changing the situation. So that might be if you make a loud noise, drawing attention to yourself, bumping into the situation. We talked about spilling drinks on people at parties … when you see somebody creeping on somebody, spilling a cup of water on them usually will defuse the situation without you getting involved directly. In this situation you don't necessarily get anybody else involved and it's often where people get creative."
Evelyn and I also talked about how Distraction is an easy tool for introverts to use. At a party, turning on the lights is an easy way to end a tense or creepy situation. It also prevents the up-stander from loosing any social capital with the people involved --- no one knows it was you who turned on the lights. Delegation can also be a great way for introverts to fight bullies or harrassers.
Evelyn has one last, imperative step for Up-Standing.
"And the last step is," she explains... "So we talk to the group about what kind of support you need to give people. That's something that we talk about, about sexual violence, and survivors… [but] this is true for basically anything… traumatic events always have fall out and it's important that that's properly managed."
UP-STANDING IN ACTION: DANIEL BOYES, OCTOBER 2015, AND THE INCIDENT OUTSIDE SOFRA CAFE
Talking to Evelyn, I thought about the times I’d stood up for people without knowing how, just by throwing myself in the middle of something so it would stop.
Daniel Boyes is a man who threw himself in the middle of something all of us hope we’ll never have to see. In 2015, Daniel stopped an assault he witnessed outside a local cafe in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. An assault that later garnered national and international press coverage, and an FBI investigation.
"Well that day it was homecoming and I remember that so that the whole city's really packed, there’s a lot of people, more than normal," Daniel says. "My friend, she's in an Irish dance group, and they were doing something at the local pub or bar. So I was going to go see them and meet some other friends there too, and we were just walking down, I was just walking down by myself to go to the bar and I just hear somebody screaming things.
"And I, you don't normally see somebody just screaming hateful racist things, if somebody's a racist or thinks something like that they usually keep it to themselves, but he's screaming at the top of his lungs. And I just see him, I keep my eye on it because it's just weird. And then I see him walk towards the lady and her daughter. And so I'm just thinking 'he could do something,' so I'm just standing there and [watching the situation], when he just starts attacking.
"So I run over there."
What happened next was widely reported by news across Indiana and the country. Daniel gives a first-hand account of the violence he saw.
"[The attacker] was like, he had his hands wrapped around her neck and head," Daniel says.
"He was trying to pull the scarf off. And he started hitting her head against the table that they were sitting at.
"So I just ran over there. I think I just pulled him off, like I pulled his shoulders back and he just kind of slipped off of her. And then I put him in like a chokehold, like a wrestling move kind of thing."
"I just brought him to the ground and the woman's husband came outside," Daniel says. "Once [the attacker] was on the ground [the woman's husband] came over and put his weight on him and stopped him until the police came. And then the police came to put him in the car and take him away. He struggled a little bit, like talking and trying to spit at everybody. He was he was pretty distraught."
Obviously, in this case, Daniel chose to intervene with direct action. Other reports of the incident say the actions of the attacker made the woman and those around her fear for her life. It wasn’t a situation in which there was time to strategize, delegate, or distract.
What about the fallout? Did Daniel get to talk to the woman he stood up for, whose life he saved, after the incident was over?
I asked him if he saw the woman's reaction after the incident.
"Yeah she was she looked very, very distraught," he describes. "She looked very, very scared and she went inside, into her restaurant.
Daniel's relationship to the woman he helped save didn't end after the incident. She wanted to get to know him. She did, and she also asked him if she could meet his parents.
"She just really wanted to know like who I am," Daniel tells me, "and about my family, what I wanted to do you know."
The woman Daniel saved, her name is Naciye. They are friends now, and see each other every once in a while. She did meet his parents, and they shared a meal together.
I asked Daniel if he knew any Muslim people or had any pre-concieved notions of Muslim culture or religion before getting to known Naciye. He said he’d grown up with a number of Muslim friends. They played basketball at the local mosque together and he learned about their cultures and ate amazing food.
TROUBLE-SHOOTING UP-STANDING: IT'S NEVER EASY
I asked Daniel if he was scared at all when he saw Naciye being attacked, whether he felt afraid as he was intervening.
"Not really I would say, I wasn't really scared," he tells me. "I don't know … I was just trying to stop him."
I asked Daniel if, after this heroic act of upstanding in a violent situation, he would feel comfortable doing so again. He said yes, but he's not over-confident when it comes to his up-standing skills. If there is a next time, he'll be wary.
"Every situation is different," he says, "They could be state-champion wrestling, or have a weapon."
[Quote about seeing bar fights]
"There are legitimate dangers associated with intervening in a situation," Evelyn Smith tells me.
"Particularly with somebody that is violent, it is legit to be scared, like that is a reasonable assessment. So when that happens we talk to them … specifically what are you afraid of?
"And then: how can you troubleshoot with using different [techniques?] So if it's fear of physical violence, getting a group of people can be a good way to deter that, because somebody being violent isn't likely to effect a group of people, [and] if it does it's fairly easy to subdue.
"For social violence we’ve talked about like things that are just weird or strange like at a party when nobody's going to know that it was you, in an extreme case you can pull the fire alarm button up… [laughter]… with an extreme situation… but that's an option right?"
"So those are legitimate concerns. I'm not going to pretend that it's easy to intervene but there are ways to strategize around them."
That day on the street, Daniel told me that many people were out walking, and some of them saw what happened. Perhaps if he hadn’t felt comfortable approaching the situation alone, he could have asked for help from passersby.
Evelyn adds that upstanding is a
"Know what your strengths are. Part of the reason we talk about multiple strategies to… Like I am tall and fat I can put a lot of pressure even on most men, even as a woman I can intimidate someone, so like I can get directly involved, that is a strength that I have. If that's not maybe where your strength is think about like how you can leverage social power how you can recruit people around you if you're able to. Or like how creative can you get interrupting your situation? What are some options available to you around a distraction, and other things … just making things weird. Often we say make it awkward enough that nobody wants to continue with what was happening. Get to know your strengths and have a back-up plan. Always keep yourself safe."
Evelyn also made the point that what might seem like a safe way to intervene for you, might not be a safe way to intervene on behalf of the person being harassed.
"Recognizing that like we think of police has a deterrent for violence but the police are often perpetrators of violence.
"So what are alternatives?
Social power is a really good way to do it.
Additionally, people often don't listen to police if they did the first time… [MiddleWay House] is domestic violence shelter, okay, if people listened to the police, abusers wouldn't keep abusing people and yet they do.
So instead look where you can leverage [social] power. Leverage communities that that person is a part of. Like for myself, as a part of a lot of Anarchist, and Punk Queer communities, I can leverage those social norms, I can get those people involved and "leaders" within those communities to set those norms, instead of like potentially replicating state violence [by calling the police]."
Evelyn reiterated that there are times when the situation escalates to the point where the police have to be called. She teaches her groups that when a situation gets violent and people’s physical safety is in danger, the police should be called without hesitation.
JUSTICE FOR NACIYE? : TRICETON BICKFORD'S SENTENCING
It’s been over a year since the violent incident outside Sofra Café made headlines all over the state of Indiana. Up until mid-January, Naciye, her family, and Daniel waited patiently to hear what would become of Naciye’s attacker, Triceton Bickford.
Daniel surprised me by saying that, although he had gotten five invitations in the mail to testify in court, and could have perhaps been a key witness for the prosecution, he chose not to give his testimony or to attend the hearings.
"I've been getting court thing where I could go to court and his court date and stuff… and I've never really had an interest to ... they said that I could have [testified] if I wanted to but I just think like … I don't want to ruin anybody's life."
I asked Daniel if he felt that by testifying he'd be helping to ruin Bickford's life. He said yes.
Just days after my interview with Daniel, the headlines came out announcing that Triceton Bickford’s last hearing and sentencing had happened. After being charged with multiple felonies, and undergoing an FBI investigation into whether or not the crime was hate-motivated, 5 of the 6 charges against Bickford were dropped and he was charged with misdemeanor battery and sentenced to a year of parole, with no jail time.
UP-STANDING IN OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM: SENATOR GREG TAYLOR AND BIAS CRIME LEGISLATION
Just like ordinary citizens play a big role in setting norms in their communities, members of state and federal governments, like police officers, judges, or elected officials, can do a lot through their work to set norms for a city, a state, or the entire nation.
Senator Greg Taylor, a State Senator from Indiana’s 33rd District in Indianapolis, attended the sentencing hearing for Triceton Bickford and was outraged by the results. To him, a year of parole with no jail time was nowhere near enough penance for a crime that was obviously bias motivated.
Senator Taylor has been working for the past six years to get two bias crime bills through the Indiana state legislature. Indiana is one of only 5 states in the country that has not yet established laws that address bias-motivated crimes, or as they are better known, hate crimes.
My question for Senator Taylor was: What's the holdup? Why does he think we haven't passed this legislation? What are the obstacles that have come up for him?
"Well one of the things that I see here in Indiana that's consistent across the board is that we tend to be more conservative in our state," Taylor explains.
"When it comes the legislation we want to be very careful and we don't want things to change. Change is scary for Indiana, and I think that leads to a lot of decisions that may not be thought out as much as they should be. And I think that that's what happened in the state of Indiana over all these years is that people don't want change.
"In addition to that I think that people misunderstand the law. Even as we speak, believe it or not there are people who believe that this doesn't protect white people. And that's absurd. It does. It protects everybody.
Then, Senator Taylor made a comment that's been on the minds of many Indiana residents and some politicians lately, as over the past 5 years the two major U.S. parties have become less and less willing to work together or compromise on anything, leading to the current political climate, where many Republican and Democratic family members and friends find it impossible to talk to each other without fighting.
"We need to open up our hearts and our minds and start thinking not only like people who act or think politically the same way that we do," he says, "but we need to start thinking about those people who may be are not like us and I think that'll open up the dialogue and have better policy to make."
I asked the senator to elaborate on how this law would protect everyone in the state, and not just minority groups, which are more often the communities effected by bias-motivated crimes.
"Well every group is part of it," Taylor insists, "And I say that sincerely, not just as a speaking point. [The bill] doesn't say if somebody attacked you because you are brown skinned, yellow skinned, or white skinned. It doesn't say if you're Muslim Jewish or Christian. It doesn't say if you are a man or a woman. It says race, religion, and gender. Those protect everybody. I don't even know if you have an excluded class in that group. It protects people against their own sexual orientation, that means heterosexual as much as homosexual. If someone attacks you because you're heterosexual you could charge them with hate crime. People tend to forget that, and that's what I was trying to bring to the forefront. When you hear about race people are like 'oh man you're right people attack black people because they're black.' Well don't you think white people get attacked because they're white? So that's what I meant by it everybody. It goes for everyone."
Senator Taylor expressed his frustration and sadness over the sentencing he had just attended for Triceton Bickford, Najiye’s attacker.
"It’s a travesty. We have people going to prison for possession of narcotics. We have people going to prison for expressing themselves in a manner that is rude or insolent. We have someone who attacked somebody, choked her, and at the same time was yelling things that nobody wants to hear – “white power” - and he gets a year probation. It's a travesty. It's a travesty. It's a travesty to her family.
"You know what I think about this instance… I want you to think about this, and this is what I tell to everybody… how long before people start getting fed up with stuff like this? How long is it going to be before somebody who's in the Muslim persuasion says 'you know what I'm tired of this. I thought the justice system would protect me. I'm here legally and doing what I'm supposed to be doing ,some one comes and attacks my wife, and he gets a year probation.' What would you do in that situation?
"And I'm telling you this is going to continue until we send a message loud and clear.
"This man said white power. He attacked her because she was Muslim. He told her that she needed to go home. If it wasn't for two bystanders that got him off of her he could have killed her. He got a year probation. And that's because we don't have a law to protect people."
I asked Senator Taylor to walk me through how Triceton Bickford's charging, trial, and sentencing would have gone differently had his bias crimes bill been law at the time of the assault.
"I believe he was charged with battery… I think it was misdemeanor assault," Taylor says, "And that carries a D Misdemeanor in Indiana.
"I think you can get up to a year of jail for a misdemeanor.
So what my bill would do …Well there's two bills.
"I have one bill that would allow the court to aggravate the sentence up to the maximum amount of time that is available under that charge. So the judge will be able to sentence him up to a year in jail. "My second and my… what I really want to pass is called an enhancement and what that does is that once the court approves, or if you claim that the charge, that the bodily injury, is based on someone's race, religion, or another protected class, then it moves it to the next level up which is the level 6 [misdemeanor], which then carries a sentence of I think up to a year to two-and-a-half years or something like that.
"So my sentence would have at least put this guy in jail -- or at least if the judge had considered it -- put him in jail for at least a year up to two-and-a-half years because it would have enhanced the penalty."
"And let me make something else clear," Senator Taylor says. "This is not about protecting Muslims this is about protecting every Hoosier. This ain't about protecting African Americans ,this is about protecting every Hoosier. This is about protecting everybody."
Taylor speaks to his frustration with the Indiana legislature, which has failed to pass this bill, which he has brought before them six times now.
"I have never seen such a division when it comes to protecting everybody. In this state … this is what the current bill says that they want to pass. It says that if someone decides that they want to come to your house, a family of color’s house, and burn a cross in your front yard…. hear what I'm saying now… the underlying penalties are trespassing and destruction of property, you know they may have to pay some restitution maybe to replace your grass or if they gets burned out or anything … but do you know that the most that they can get is 3 months in jail?
"So this bill would say that the maximum time you get for burning a cross in somebody's yard is three months what message does that send?"
"This should have been a slam dunk piece of legislation," Taylor insists. "I mean we have enhancements all over the Indiana code, we have enhancements based on age, based on what weapon you use. We do all this stuff. But this sends a message. If you have a gun and you and you commit a robbery you get a higher sentence and if you just commit a robbery with your hands, but we can't enhance a penalty because you do it based on someone's race."
Senator Greg Taylor is a great example, just as Daniel Boyes is, of an upstander. He’s harnessed his strength as a legislator, as an elected official. If his bill is passed it will set a norm not just for his constituents but for the entire state. That’s what I call efficient upstanding. Senator Taylor believes this is his job.
"It's our responsibility as policymakers to send a message to our constituency that there are certain things we won't tolerate," Taylor explains. "We're not going to sit here and say that we're going to tolerate heroin anymore. We have a heroin epidemic in the state and I hear bill after Bill after Bill to address that problem… It's unfortunate that we can't do the same thing when it comes to people's bias.
"Really what it comes down to is: How do you feel about someone being able to discriminate?"
AFTERMATH OF THE SENTENCING
I asked Daniel Boyes how he felt about Triceton Bickford’s sentencing. We didn’t have time to get together and talk, but he did send me this message:
“I did hear about it, and I have mixed feelings about the situation. I believe that it is pretty serious what he did and he should suffer consquences more severe than a year on probation. I think his actions were of malicious intent and he should be punished for what he did. On the other hand, he may have learned a lesson, or he may have mental issues or something else that could have influenced his actions. I think whatever punishment he would have received would have been scrutinized by many, so I am unsure how to feel about it myself.”
FROM BYSTANDERS TO UPSTANDERS: WHAT DO WE WANT OUR ROLE TO BE IN KEEPING OUR COMMUNITY SAFE?
During our conversation, Abi told me that she doesn’t recognize herself sometimes these days. Carrying around a gun for protection, she feels like she is both in danger and dangerous. But she doesn’t see any other way to ensure that she and her children will be protected, from harassment and violence that she seems to see as inevitable under the current presidency.
Many people have shared with me the opinion that if their friends and neighbors are feeling threatened, being harassed, being attacked, they feel it is their duty to help them, protect them in some way. However, many people have also shared with me that they have absolutely no idea how to effectively protect their neighbors. Perhaps by utilizing the tools that Evelyn teaches, leveraging what power we have the way Senator Taylor does, or just being inspired to take action by Daniel’s story, those who wish to become Up-Standers can make the mark they are hoping to make.
The Hijabi Diaries Podcast is a production of the Openhearted Campaign, produced by Aubrey Seader, and Anna Maidi. Special thanks to WFHB, The Islamic Center of Bloomington, Evelyn Smith, Daniel Boyes, Senator Greg Taylor and his staff, including Brett Stinson. Thanks to Abi for sharing her thoughts. Music heard in the episode was created by Baraka Blue, and Salaam Band.