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There's no easy way to talk about #OurThreeBrothers

Posted on March 14, 2016
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TAKE ON HATE joined community members and leaders at a vigil March 11, 2016 at Wayne State University (Detroit, Mich.) to honor #‎OurThreeBrothers Mohamedtaha, Adam and Muhannad. 

By Asha Noor
Campaign to TAKE ON HATE
Advocacy and Civic Engagement Specialist (ACE)

Salaam, Peace and Blessings

What I write about today has weighed heavily on my heart and mind, and many others in our community: the tragic death of #OurThreeBrothers Mohamedtaha, Muhanad and Adam.

I want to first give my condolences to their families, friends and loved ones. Although I have no familial ties with these young brothers, I am deeply impacted by their death.

A Sudanese proverb that comes to mind is "a child is a child of everyone." Their mothers lost their sons in the most tragic way, and we as a community have lost our brothers. We are intertwined by our humanity, our religion, many of us by our similar plights as refugees and some of us because of our blackness. But ultimately those factors are not a precursor to feeling the loss of another human being. It should not be a precursor to whether or not we ask for justice. It should not be a determining factor of whether or not we criminalize and defame their name, or chose to honor them.

#OurThreeBrothers, victims of execution-style murders, should not have to prove in their death whether they were righteous or good enough to be mourned. This level of perfection expected of black victims is the status quo. "To be black and a victim is to be black and a criminal." This hypocrisy in the American community at large, and even the American Muslim community, is abhorrent. We often choose to care only if we lose our brothers and sisters in a hate crime or if their ethnicity matches ours, and not on the sole fact that a life has been lost.

The loss of #OurThreeBrothers is not one that can be packaged neatly in a narrative that suits the Muslim American community or the American community at large. The reality is that we fail our African Muslim immigrant and non-immigrant brothers and sisters. The word "diaspora" literally means scattering of seeds, and as African diaspora we are too often uprooted from our homes in a traumatic fashion and must establish new roots in our new homes. We flee our own homes in attempt to start a new life, to run away from conflict, only to face new challenges and new forms of violence.

As a Somali refugee myself, I understand the difficulties that many African Muslim refugees face in this country. We often are neglected from our religious institutions that typically garner support for Arab and South Asian Muslims. And we experience hardship in navigating the system here in America because of our blackness. We are often left isolated and vulnerable, living in poor conditions and searching for recourse in places it does not exist. We lose our loved ones back home in wars, and we lose our loved ones here in conflict.

We have a problem in our community: when, why and how we grieve. It is selective in ways that go against our humanity. We must not lie to ourselves any longer and accept that we do not see each other equally so that we can collectively work toward a solution. Not only in life, but in death, we are stratified arbitrarily. We have much work to do for our community to realize the issues we face lest we continue down this divisive path and to instead become a community and country that values all human life.