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Why are we holding an 11-year-old more accountable for her tall tales than the President of the United States?

By Shadi Bozorg Recently an 11-year-old Canadian Muslim girl, who claimed to have her hijab cut off by a scissor-wielding male stranger, fabricated the story for reasons unknown. As expected, the world quickly turned against her. People’s responses on social media went from shock and sadness about a hate crime against an 11-year-old, to angrily condemning the child, even going as far as saying she should be charged with criminal offenses. Did she make an error? Yes, and she will have to live with it for the rest of her life. Her name and face have been published for the world to see, and public opinion convictions often come with dire consequences. Is she a child? Yes, and that’s what many people are forgetting. Why are we holding an 11-year-old more accountable for her tall tales than the President of the United States? According to the wise people of Twitter and Facebook, this is because she clearly had a hidden agenda. [TW/CW: The following tweets include islamophobia.] https://twitter.com/WhitesOpinion/status/954095054435573760 https://twitter.com/Wesmoms/status/953466683737374721 https://twitter.com/WarWithAgendas/status/953285895351947264 Accusations of her operating on behalf of a sinister organization, and her family being terrorists began to fill comment sections of national articles. After all, it’s widely understood that children never lie. No, children only speak factual truths and they never make mistakes. Yes, this specific 11-year-old must be linked to something deeper and darker. She doesn’t deserve to be treated like every other child, for she’s Muslim and there must be more to this than a kid thinking they’re getting away with a lie. Just for clarification, almost all children lie in some capacity, almost consistently. And if you’re thinking “mine doesn't’!” it’s because they are doing a good job of lying to you. This lie snowballed to the point of no control, going viral on social media and becoming national news in a matter of hours.  Being a child, this girl must have assumed she would just have to play along with it until it played out. Wrong? Absolutely. Evil? An Islamophobic reach. The hypocrisy of human beings is nothing new, but both of these reactions so perfectly showcase how fleeting empathy is in our society. When something bad happens in the trends it’s all “thoughts and prayers”, “this is tragic”, “let’s make this better.” Yet, once someone makes a mistake it’s “let’s ruin this person’s life forever using just the pads of our fingers.”  We are not rational or consistent in our responses, just reactionary.

The labor of black women is still being usurped without proper credit, and certainly without any reward.

The “Black Panther” movie is slated to be the biggest thing in Black America since Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Never before have there been so much blackness in a blockbuster film, a major comic universe film no less. The preview this week is getting rave reviews. Ryan Coogler and Marvel have a hit on their hands. Which makes it baffling as to why a black woman who was pivotal to introducing the world to the story world beyond the main character was not invited to the preview of the movie. Actually, it’s not baffling. The act is disappointing. It is just more proof of how the labor of black women is valued much more than the woman herself. https://twitter.com/rgay/status/958183880950923265 https://twitter.com/BonjourEve/status/958216064009166848 Roxane Gay wrote the "Black Panther" spin-off, “World of Wakanda”, a series about the army which backs Black Panther and secures the nation he governs. Gay turned the series into the first black female LGBT comic, complete with a romance amongst the characters. She did so without compromising the group’s bad-ass quotient, making the action-packed comic a huge breakthrough for intersectionality in the MCU. Marvel cut the comic mid-2017, citing low sales. This is despite the growing interest in the Black Panther film that will release in less than a year and a lackadaisical advertising budget for the comic from its onset. The comic debuted with more than 57,000 copies sold but was down to around 14,000 six months later in April of 2017. Instead of letting the franchise ride on the growing interest in the upcoming film, Marvel pulled the book. Gay’s skilled writing had made its mark, however. Her books took readers into the world of the all-women army, Dora Milaje, and their skilled security of the nation that the Black Panther originated from. Her comics opened the franchise to BIPOC in ways that the Black Panther comics never could — centering black women in the protector roles we often end up shouldering in the real world. It was also a story that showcased a same-sex romance in a militaristic setting without being too “preachy” about the social implications — something Marvel comics is still notorious for. Their superheroes are well-known for tackling social problems but in the manner of the after school specials that the networks peddled in the 80s.

The story of Sarah Winchester and her unfinished mansion is one that would not exist without the violence of white colonialism.

In San Jose, there stands an extravagant mansion with hundreds of rooms that is still, technically, unfinished. It has secret rooms, hidden passageways, trap doors, windows in the floors, and staircases that lead to nowhere. The construction of this surreal, monstrous structure was commissioned by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Following the unexpected deaths of both her infant daughter and husband, Sarah visited a spiritual medium who gave her a grim answer to her existential questions. Sarah would forever be haunted by the vengeful spirits of those who had fallen victim to the Winchester repeating rifle, more popularly known as “The Gun That Won The West.” Slaughtered by the weapon that created the Winchester fortune and helped to ensure Manifest Destiny, the restless spirits seemed to be attacking the Winchester family in retaliation for the destruction that the rifle had caused during the American-Indian Wars. The spiritual medium convinced Sarah that this haunting was responsible for the deaths of her family, and that it would forever be attached to her. In an effort to deter the angry ghosts, she began to build the San Jose home in 1884 and the building continued until her death in 1922. It was believed that the maze-like layout and sheer size of the mansion would confuse the spirits and therefore protect her from their wrath. The story of Sarah Winchester and her unfinished mansion is one that would not exist without the violence of white colonialism, but I do not expect that to be contemplated much in the newest sensationalized version of her story, a biopic and horror drama starring Helen Mirren. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built” is set for release Feb. 2. With this feature, Hollywood continues the tradition of sensationalizing and distorting the reality of Native American suffering in order to tell horror stories that center white characters. The same is true of narratives with Black ghosts that use racialized U.S. chattel slavery and antebellum violences. Rarely are the lives or deaths of Black and Native people explored in horror films unless they are done so in this way. These racialized violences are used as nothing more than plot devices, rather than as a means to interrogate and condemn the white supremacy and colonialism that necessitates them.

I’m not sure when the government will look at its disabled citizens and see us as people that deserve the same quality of life as everyone else.

By Jazmine Joyner I have been disabled for nine years, and I have been unable to work a 9 to 5 job for four years. Like millions of people around the world, I live with invisible illnesses like ME (aka chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, tactile allodynia, and osteoarthritis in my spine. All these illnesses make it difficult to do daily things able-bodied people take for granted like showering, dressing, making food and driving. It wasn’t alway this way, as I get older my symptoms get progressively worse. When I was younger I could hop out of bed go for a run, shower, make myself breakfast and go to my part-time job. At times this routine would be difficult to maintain but even when it got difficult I was still able to go to work. When I turned 23 I reached a tipping point — one day while prepping for the department Christmas party I sneezed and dislocated my spine. Yes, a sneeze sent me down this downward spiral. I couldn’t walk and the injury sent my fibromyalgia and ME into overdrive. I had to cut back on work, and eventually, I had to stop working altogether. I lived with my mother at the time, there was no way I could afford to live alone on the meager pay I received working part-time. I tried to live on my own at 21, I lived in Atlanta while I was going to school full-time. I had to find a way to pay my tuition, all while trying to maintain a sense of health, and I failed. I got sick from the stress of everything, and couldn’t work or go to school. So I couldn't pay my tuition and I came home, deathly ill and with my tail between my legs. I have never been able to financially take care of myself. With my limited mobility and health, the capitalist society we live in wasn’t built with people like me in mind. I applied for supplemental security income (SSI) four times to no avail. I was told my work experience was lacking, that I wasn’t disabled enough for government assistance. With every letter, it was another failure to acquire the independence to buy my own medicine and attempt to take care of my own basic living essentials. My self-confidence dwindled and I fell into a huge depression that I am still fighting today.

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