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Vigil for the Chapel Hill Shootings

swetha's picture

After the incomprehensible shootings of three young Muslim people at UNC Chapel Hill, the Muslim Students Association organized a vigil last night. It was absolutely beautifully put together, with time to talk about the events, time to mourn and stay silent, time to pray, and time to share feelings. It was understandably difficult for anyone to feel ready to say anything about the events and their impact on the community, but the mic was then passed around the circle. Those who spoke were mostly Muslim students, those who passed the mic were mostly not. This creation of silence and voices was really important, I think, to maintaining a feeling of support and solidarity and alliance wth those who were struck most closely by the events. Students and community members shared powerful messages of revolutionary love, support, and sharing in joys as well as pain, and these messages reached a large group of students of diverse identities, religious and otherwise.

Looking around the circle, I also noticed the sea of people of color with a small number of white people in attendance. While this could have honestly been due to the way the event was shared, it made me think about the ways in which students do find support on campus and in the bi-co. Is it easier for students of color to love and support each other in the face of pain and loss? We have had way too many vigils this year, and that obviously speaks to systemic issues of racism and Islamophobia in the country, but it also speaks to a willingness of students to come together to support each other and to provide spaces for community healing together. I wonder, however, if there are ways that we can come together and support each other without running the risk of co-opting each others' struggles, or somehow competing for what seems like the small pool of "resources" like love and caring and support.