Looking beyond the black maleness of the problem that Harris-Perry correctly identifies, the violent policing of immigrant, black, Muslim, Asian, white, Latina, gay/lesbian/transgendered women’s bodies also occur, in public and private ways. One only has to look back at the murder of Tyra, a 25 year-old transgendered woman who was found dead in an abandoned home in Baltimore last year, or remember that veiled Muslim women in the decade since 9/11 have endured public insults as they go about their daily lives.Shaima Alawadi’s murder is indicative of this. As a Muslim woman clearly identified by her hijab and who was from a country that the U.S. invaded and occupied for nearly 8 years, Shaima Alawadi and many women like her are seen as problematic as terrorists, radicals and oppressed, helpless victims who are prone to the whims of their supposedly terrorist radical husbands. Yet they remain invisible in our national dialogue and narrative about racial justice, equality and violence against women. The lack of intense media scrutiny and national pleas to find Shaima Alwadi’s killer illustrates this invisibility of violence against women. These women embody a racialized and gendered problem in America for those who use Islamophobic insults or physical violence to control them. If Alawadi’s murder is to be seen as a hate crime, then the note left next to her unconscious, beaten body – “go back to your country, you terrorist” – illustrates this.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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