Starting Over After Charlie Hebdo

By: Autumn Elizabeth

IMG_0524I had a totally different post written for today, but then I had to start over.

I had to start over because journalists and cartoonist, as well as those who worked with them and to protect them, were killed and injured yesterday, about ten minutes from where I am writing these words.

The news, and the news media, which are two very different things in my humble opinion, will reveal plenty of details in the coming days and weeks, but what matters to me as I sit here, writing a new post for today is that people were killed, were injured, were frightened because of their ideas, their words, their humor. What matters today for me personally is that violence has once again disturbed a place that I call home.

Today, like many days recently, I am forced to face the reality that this is the world we live in. A world of bombs in front of NAACP offices, of genocide, of police brutality, of terrorism, of xenophobia, of hate crimes. This scary world is not simply a generalization of global problems, it is personal. I live in a world where my friends get teargassed for speaking out against racist systems, where people who share my profession get murdered for making jokes, and where violence and fear are used to create and maintain power.

This is a world that needs starting over. We can begin to start over by seeking new systems for justices and new methods for peace. We can continue to start over by speaking up, standing in solidarity, and living with love.

I titled this post “Starting over after Charlie Hebdo” but the truth is, there is no “after Charlie Hebdo”, just like there is no “post-Ferguson”, because these things are still the reality of all our lives, or at least they are the reality in mine because #JeSuisCharlie, because I still believe that #blacklivesmatter, and because I refuse to stay quiet about either.

Millennial Activist United started a powerful tradition of using a quote from activist Assata Shakur as a rally chat, and so standing in solidarity with them and that movement, I will leave you with these words as my prayer for everyone here in Paris, for journalist and cartoonists all over the world, and for all the other activists for peace and justice.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.   –Assata Shakur 


About Autumn Elizabeth

Autumn Elizabeth is a writer, scholar, and outlaw. She is the author of My Life as Herbst and the Editor In Chief at Searching Sophia's Pockets.

4 thoughts on “Starting Over After Charlie Hebdo

  1. At Searching Sophia’s Pockets we value everyone’s spiritual journey. As a site firmly committed to justice, we also value addressing white privilege at its source. Given these two beliefs we have felt it appropriate and important to allow the following comments to appear. However, as a reminder, Searching Sophia’s Pockets is a safe space, and only respectful dialogues will be allowed.

  2. About Ferguson…Do you have information that that the Grand Jury didn’t have? The officer was cleared of all five charges. Police brutality….You didn’t mention police getting shot in their vehicle eating a ham sandwich. I respect your war on racism Autumn, but it comes in all different colors. I wish you would write about Reverend Jeremia Wright and his influence over Obama. I think you will find all the racism you can stand. You’re spending all of your well intention energy looking at the problem from only one direction.

    • Bill,
      What I see in your comment is a deep struggle with the concepts or racism and white privilege. I can totally empathize with that. It took me years of struggling with my own white privilege and guilt, years of learning about how the devaluing of people of color is not new, but rather the foundation of the system we live in. Even now as I stand proudly as an ally in the fight for racial justice, I still struggle with understanding the millions of subtle and not so subtle ways that my skin color has made me more valuable to society than other human beings.

      All this learning has lead me to understand that racism really only has one side, and that is the systematic and violent de-valuing of people of color, and the consistent privileging of white people. This is not always easy to accept, especially when we as white people feel victimized by the system too. However, our reluctance as white people to face the reality of racism does not make it any less true.

      There are a lot of excellent articles out there that have helped me better understand racism, the justice system, and the events surrounding the #blacklivesmatter movement. However, the post that resonates with me most clearly is this post about faith and racism
      I urge you to read it, and to consider its points deeply.

      I want to be as honest and compassionate as I can be in acknowledging that the struggle for racial justice asks you as a white person to give something up, or at least this is how it appears at first. For white people who have been hurt, who struggle, this can seem like a terrible task. Yet I believe that every time my white skins gets me ahead, I am not gaining anything, rather I am losing a tiny part of my connection with God. By accepting the advantages racism offers me, I move us all further and further away from the kindom of God. Being anti-racist asks us to look deeper at the sources of our troubles as white people, and asks us to recognize the sad fact that even our most desperate struggles would worsen if we had faced them as people of color.

      So, yes there are struggles other than racism that we all face in the world. Certainly the death of police officers, are of concern, indeed I believe the untimely death of any human being must be of concern to us all if we are to preserve our humanity. Yet the death of a cop does not prove that the system is just, if anything, it proves that we should all be in this struggle together, because there are so many problems we need to fix.

      With love,

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