• Sahar Abdulaziz


What do I write about when the most pressing issue on my mind right now is the safety of my family, friends, and community from attacks stemming from my so-called ‘fellow’ countrymen? Seriously, what do I write about? Recipes? Crafts? Perhaps you’d like to hear about my next book? Should I throw up a meme? A quote? A photo? What kind of diversion should I pontificate about to make everyone else around me more comfortable, because frankly, I don’t feel like writing at all.

My mind is frayed, tired from constantly being in overload. My body remains tense, on alert. As a matter of fact, I’m nursing a crick in my neck as I type. As the stories of attacks against innocent people- including children pour into my social media feed, I am left wondering as to the long-lasting consequences that will befall my community, as well as what makes those who perpetrate these hate-filled atrocities so broken.

There is no doubt that people who are constantly under attack, whether through media, personal swipes or outright aggression begin to wear down, no longer wanting to participate in the daily grind in the same proactive manner they normally did because their minds and hearts are now abnormally manipulated. Survival mode kicks in full force. Eyes subconsciously train themselves to dart around corners, peering into a reflective glass, over shoulders, trying to catch each and every microaggression before becoming the next unwitting victim. The ears work to block out the volatile verbiage while the heart tries to make sense out of it all. And while all this transpires, the brain systematically categorizes the influx of information on a safety scale embedded into the psyche of every person under siege.

As a consequence, and not before long, the body begins to dive into fight or flight mode. Attacking its host with a barrage of intrusions and conflicting instructions. Various forms and degrees of depression, anxiety, and PTSD all begin to push forcibly through the protective layers, only to infiltrate the heavily stressed individual until eventually taking over. As a result, a litany of physical illnesses ensues and become yet another hurdle in a long list of difficulties. And this is only a small, inkling of what begins to transpire inside the minds and hearts of people always stressed over safety issues.

Indeed, most people will give it their best effort to try and continue their days as normally as possible, while their insides are in conflict. Churning, anxious, and waiting for the proverbial ball to drop, -maybe, this time, landing on their heads. For some, this means being pushed to the emotional brink. Diverted into concentrating and combating a host of issues not of their making. Children, without the toolsets or experiences necessary to process and protect, become unable to understand why they are being bullied, marginalized, and blindly hated. As a result, they too will undoubtedly and acutely feel the effects of these attacks long past the expiration date.

Ironically, the demoralizing impact of racism is often under-recognized by our medical establishment as a possible cause or criterion when discussing PTSD. Frankly, this is unacceptable, especially considering the amount of racism, which permeates throughout many components of the American culture.

“The mind, as the human storehouse of memories, is constructed to accept information, determine its importance, compartmentalize it, and file it away until needed. Some information, however, is completely and utterly buried so deep that the brain never expects to have to retrieve it. Other information the brain takes in is so painful, so explicitly graphic and explosive that it should have been put in the “Do Not Enter” file. However, for some inexplicable reason, it wavers slightly below the surface, vulnerable to the slightest trigger or memory to retrieve it and set off an avalanche of emotional and physical responses.” [But You LOOK Just Fine, 2013] The endless attempts to deny acknowledgment concerning the devastating impact of these relentless variables is counterproductive when discussing the psychological as well as the emotional well-being of those constantly under the power of this form of duress.

In other words, if individuals are constantly under attack, harassed, discriminated, bullied, singled out, and incessantly under threat of violence, the result will very likely include a host of health issues, not always readily visible, simply because the human body and brain are not meant for nonstop cruelty. When people must live, continuously terrified for their safety, the duration of these experiences can leave a lasting impact- physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Therefore, when discussing the fallout of social turmoil, the discussion must include and take into account the trauma history of an individual as well as the group under cordon. The traumatic history must not only be recognized but also factored into the equation when dealing with the onset of an individual’s anxieties or mental health issues.

But this is just one of the debilitating legacies of hate, racism, and bigotry, and now a new and improved wave of fascism. The cornerstone of challenges dumped on whole groups of people, used as a dividing tool to stir up blind anger and violent retaliation with absolutely no other purpose other than settling imaginary scores.

Shrewd and cunning hate-mongers with national platforms stand on their soapboxes, poking and prodding at the emotional instability of their followers as well, -fueling the mounting anger and agitating the mindset of hopelessness they invented, under the guise of building national allegiance. These demigods’ callously spew a wide assortment of the same old regurgitated untruths. Waiting and watching, and carefully calculating as to which one of their fabrications will land with the least kickback, -cause the most upset, trigger the most trepidation. Their followers are groomed not to question anything. Conditioned to practice a mob mentality directed by blind allegiances as a mandate and as a consequence reacts by attacking anyone they deem the ‘other.'

These seekers of corrupt power use these demonic tactics while promising to protect the people- i.e. ‘their people’ from danger and invasion. -The very danger they created in the first place- whether real or imagined, suggesting of course that with the implementation of their fascist programs and laws they will indeed guarantee the erasure of entire cultures of people, effectively wiping them out. And the easiest and most expedient way to make sure they gain this mind-control is to cause mass hysteria and fear. Build up in the minds of the easily swayed and politically ignorant as to how one group is the cause of all their ills and troubles. Methodically convincing these dupes that by getting rid of the ‘others’, either through hurting or killing them, -you get rid of the problem. This pattern of control is simplistically cruel, but highly effective.

And as more and more innocent people become pushed and pressured daily into “survival mode” or forced into “automatic pilot”, the more people will begin to shut down emotionally. Overwhelming feelings of anger, stress, helplessness, depression and anxiety will continue to fester unimpeded while the impulse to lash out physically or verbally will escalate. The climate for change will face the uphill challenge of emotional battle fatigue. Whole communities burdened by the adverse effects of racial profiling and attack will experience the counterintuitive impact of trauma in ways beyond the scope of reason, making the cycle of damage generational once again.

For those feeling the pain and hurt of these recent attacks, it is imperative to practice self-care.

-As difficult as it may feel right now, try to stay as involved and productive in work, and in personal relationships as much as possible.

-Build your network of support and practice cooperative problem-solving techniques.

-Share your feelings openly and honestly with those your trust.

-Garner an environment of trust and respect amongst those you communicate with.

-Maintain strong family and friend relationships. Do not shut yourself out of living. Infuse you day with playfulness, relaxation when possible, mutual enjoyment, and spiritual and emotional connectivity.

-If you see your children struggling, seek out counseling. Keep communications open. Listen, but do not judge or shame. All the guilt for these feelings lies at the doorstep of the perpetrators of this violence, not the victims.

It is important to note that this current climate of hate is not going anywhere soon. There are no quick fixes. Those who are actively creating this conflict-ridden environment of fear want people not to feel safe. As a matter of fact, they are banking on it. Hoping and plotting to manipulate people into compliance by telling them repeatedly over and over again that they are losing control over their surroundings, unable to protect their family from harms way, and by default, it is all ‘their fault.' The ‘others,’ -They are the reason your life has become so unbearable, so dangerous, and now so out of control. These are the people to blame, and unless you follow my demagoguery, you will not be safe, -Not until we obliterate them all!

“It's a nefarious system that trains all those functioning in it to penalize each other by circumstances of birth, far beyond their controls. In the quest to dehumanize someone unlike themselves, people motivated by hate lose their own humanity,” explains Layla Abdullah-Poulos, President /ESC Minority Students in Action and Founder of NbA Muslims. “The strain is augmented by those of us unfortunate enough to embody intersections of the "other". Sometimes, I am confounded to understand the catalyst for the discrimination to which I am confronted. Do they hate me because I am Black or Muslim? This just adds a layer of confusion to an already draining situation and makes things harder to endure.”

Loneliness, separateness, and isolation are side dishes to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and depression. And while sometimes it is a very good idea to get away, turn off the television and shut out the intrusions of this tumultuous world, the overwhelming feelings can also become debilitating. In the climate of exclusion, it is easy to give in to the feelings of being different, ‘the other’, wanting to avoid unpleasant encounters and destructive emotions at all costs, but one should never lose faith. It becomes imperative to remember, - an illness caused by stress is NOT due to weakness, but from being far too strong for far too long.



*Layla Abdullah-Poulos: Project Manager l nbamuslims.comPresident l ESC Minority Students in ActionB.A. Historical and Cultural Studies SUNY Empire State CollegeM.A. in Liberal Studies CandidateSUNY Empire State College 2016

But You LOOK Just Fine: Unmasking Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, Panic Disorders and Seasonal Affective Disorder /2013 by Sahar Abdulaziz, MS. Available on -softcover and kindle.

Photo#1: Saved

Photo#2: Newsclipping/gently gleaned from FB

photo#3: Saved from Pinterest/quote from Voltaire

Photo#4: Saved from FB: Jereme Schifler Dec. 2015

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