9/11: On Terror, Grief and Forgetting

There are not too many moments in our national consciousness available for mourning and lost. Though our history is fraught with war and loss both domestically and abroad, our nation's commemorations have fallen to our capitalist nature of bargain shopping and crime show marathons.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, however, we allowed ourselves a collect season of grief and unity. Though no relief from systemic violence, American culture took a visible and concerted effort to come together. Americana reached near propaganda levels to build morale and appear strong in the face of a world growing anxious of our bombastic pride. Americans lived in a new mode of fear and terror was reintroduced to a new generation. This milestone in American history also confronted our myths of safety. The sheer shock of a domestic attack jolted the American arrogance of "things like that are not happening here." We tend to so this, often.

In the hours and after the Boston bombing, manhunt and capture of Jahar Tsarnaev, the rhetoric of "somewhere else warfare" became rampant across news reports and almost immediately the two "white suspects" became Eastern European Islamic extremist. Likeness of the brothers got darker and darker and by the end of the day these men were brown-skinned carriers of terror. Because here in America terror is Black and Brown and "not supposed to be here."

What 9/11 did to us as a nation is solidify tensions of Brown/Black bodies carrying terror. As countless narratives share, there has been a severe uptake in violence against brown-skinned and Muslim folks in the aftermath. From the security line to workplace to college campuses, brown bodies are policed and monitored. But this is how we are. This is the America we foster and develop.

In the face if attack we batten down the hatches and pinpoint what we believe is the source of our fear. For Black folks and people of color, terror and fear are central to our everyday life. Any loss we felt personally by 9/11 was complicated with the relentless violence of simply being in America. And we live in a country that does such an active work to erase such violence.

The terror of 9/11 for some sits distantly in both time and location, the terror of being Black or Brown in America sits heavy on our bodies and our minds. How do you live in a country that paints criminals and villains in your flesh-tones? This conflict is also complicated by the demand of other to "Never Forget."

Already from my newsfeed to timeline, I see countless posts invoking this need for collective remembering. For the families who lost so much on 9/11, forgetting is an impossibility. Our obligation to stand with them and remember the attack does a work of collective healing. However, what are we allowing ourselves to forget?

We must remember the Black women and girls killed by police brutality. We must remember the systemic and conscious fear of Brown-skinned and Muslim folk. We must remember the violence and hurt that plagues our national consciousness daily. We must remember those for whom forgetting is an impossibility.

Forgetting is an impossibility for so many who live through the daily trauma of street harassment and military-style policing. Forgetting is an impossibility for the families whose loved ones have been violently deported, detained and incarcerated. Forgetting is an impossibility for those living through sexual assault and domestic and intimate partner violence. Forgetting is an impossibility for many Americans and as we grieve the devastating attacks on September 11 2001, also grieve this summer of violence and destruction.

We must grieve for the daily terrors that many demand to forget.