International bodies such as the U.N. Human Rights Committee were created to bring broad, global attention to injustice. Late last year, U.N. experts called on our federal government to complete its investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teen whose death brought Stand Your Ground policies to the world's attention. But with global injustice on the agenda, there must also be practical rules and limits. For instance, our entire group had just two minutes to discuss Stand Your Ground laws, police brutality, and the inherent racism which drive both.
Still, those two minutes contained truth, power, justice, and love.
The shadow report that our group developed and presented to the committee laid out the ongoing assault on people of color and women, complete with statistics and stories of real tragedies that have occurred because of Stand Your Ground policies. We highlighted the stories that have become a part of all of our lives — Trayvon, Jordan, Marissa, Ricardo, Jonathan, Renisha. Unfortunately, they aren't the only human beings who have been taken from us or lost their liberty due to Stand Your Ground policies and their grossly uneven and inconsistent interpretation by prosecutors, police, and juries.
To be clear, Stand Your Ground policies effectively give state sanction to those gun owners who are inclined to view certain human beings as targets, threats, and dare I say "enemy combatants". Many of the cases referred to above were animated by a very real "Us vs. Them" dynamic and ended in utter tragedy. People committed to peace or at least no plans to engage in violence were pitted against those committed to violence then armed with weapons, the legal protection provided by Stand Your Ground laws and the confusion they seem to create for juries.
As a young man born in East Jerusalem who has lived in the West Bank and South Florida, I know violence, I have been afraid of violence, and I certainly know what it's like for that violence to be tied to racial/ethnic differences, ignorance, and outright racism.
However, here in the U.S., most Muslim and Arab communities still have not joined the forefront of the fight against Stand Your Ground. No disrespect meant to those championing other causes within the Islamic community. There are those out there which I personally admire and support. With that said, I do think Muslims have to break the barriers. We have to get involved in more than just stopping the "anti-sharia" legislation popping up around the country.
We must be aggressive and vigilant in making this country better for all, including us. Muslims have been revolutionaries everywhere, even here in the United States of America. Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and others were able to utilize Islam in the civil-rights movement to push forward the issues plaguing black America at the time. Most boxing historians would acknowledge that Ali was never known as the "Greatest" because of his boxing prowess. He earned that moniker because of the man he was, and still is today, the things he stood for and the things he continues to stand for. He lost everything refusing to serve in an unjust war against other people of color. For that, he is a hero to us all.