[Editorial] Chapel Hill Shooting Proves it's Time to Build a World Free of Islamophobia & Racism

When we first learned of the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yosor Mohammad, and Raszan Mohammad Abu-Salha, we felt a heartbreaking sense of loss.  From Chapel Hill across the United States, to the members of the international community we've met over the last several weeks, the human family is hurting.

In this moment, we extend our arms from Ferguson to embrace the hands of every person in this beloved community. With prayers and good vibes for the family and friends who are grieving, as well as all people who are suffering from dehumanizing violence. 

We are in this struggle together. 

As a team of people who are striving to create a world where we deal with harm in our communities through healing, love and kinship, this tragedy presents an opportunity for all of us to come to terms with the trauma of the present day, our historic past and to find true reconciliation. Together we must build a more just, peaceful and compassionate America.


For us, the reconciliation process begins by situating Craig Hicks, the murderer of Deah, Yosor and Raszan into the proper context. Just like Darren Wilson, his actions represent a centuries-old, dehumanizing culture of calculated cruelty towards people who reside at the bottom of the racial caste. 

Those of us at the bottom do not need the official story to declare Hicks’ motive. We know all too well what it means to be on the receiving end of dehumanization and violence. We’re all too familiar with the systems and strategies that turn Muslims into menacing threats because they are the same that turn black people into predatory boogie men.

So let’s say it as plainly as Josh Healey did, “the Chapel Hill shooting is not about a parking space any more than Eric Garner's murder was about cigarettes.”

What we are all witnessing this week is the collapse of a very profitable, weaponized lie that is crumbling under the weight of contradiction. 

The whole world watched major American news media organizations drag their feet with indifference to this story. This slow reaction is inconsistent with how acts of violence are covered when the victims are white.  

We zeroed in to see if reporters would name the ethnic and religious identity of Craig Hicks as the white, non-believing terrorist he is. 

They didn’t. They never do. 

This tragedy must be examined within a broader culture of Islamophobia and racism in the United States.  Produced and peddled by America's military industrial complex, Hollywood and right-wing media, many profit immensely from deploying this weaponized lie about the threat of Islam. Just like the War on Drugs which makes us targets whenever we have run ins with police or angry vigilantes, war is big business. 

It is time for us to come together and build a new world where the profits of unjust wars don't overshadow our human dignity.