September 11th 2001. The day, time stood still. A day that seems to have
never ended. Within that solitary day there is an eternity of shock, terror,
death, life, fire, smoke, sunlight, dust, sorrow and hysteria. Three numbers--
911, that were already imbued with so much meaning, now not only stand
for "Emergency," but "State of Emergency." Three digits
that immediately bring to mind the surreal images of two planes slamming
each into 110 floors of steel, marble and concrete. It looked like pure
science fiction, as if the south tower sucked-in this flying ship and
crushed it in its huge belly. But as reality would have it, these monstrous
planes crushed Americas, indeed the worlds, premier symbol
of financial strength and power. As we try to make sense out of these
horrendous tragediesthese "acts of war"-- there is a need
to reach out and reflect. Here at theHotness we have asked some of our
writers and subscribers to join us in sharing their perspectives on what
has happened. If after reading this you feel compelled to share your thoughts,
feel free to email your perspective to firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Nicole Moore, Editor
Writer, African-American, New York NY
Day One: Its a beautiful, sunny morning and for some strange reason
I have to hear Steel Pulses True Democracy CD. After a crazy, almost
reckless 30-minute search, I am jamming to their song, Chant A Psalm:
"So blow away your bluesy feeling
" An hour later I turn
on the radio and hear that a plane has flown into the north tower of the
World Trade Center. I turn on the TV. I cant believe what I am seeing
and hearing, so I head for the roof. Up there I see clouds of black smoke
burn through the sunny New York Skyline. Theres only one tower standing.
I am somewhere in between screaming and moaning and passing out, knowing
nothing will ever be the same.
Sept.12th: The eerie silence of the previous night was traumatizing. I
heard someone sneeze. It was a man on the corner
one block away.
I only slept one hour. This morning the wind has shifted and the smell
of burning tires fills my apartment. I light incense and talk to friends
that I havent spoken to in years. I cry and tell them I am alright.
Sept.13th: I meet my girlfriend for dinner and drinks. The bartender buys
everyone a round of shots called Red, White and Blues. By the time I throw
back the blue shot, everyone is chanting, "USA, USA, USA." The
liquor is way more intoxicating than this abrupt display of patriotism.
I bite into my barbecue chicken and stare silently at the muted CNN coverage.
Sept.14th: There are 99-cent Bodega candles everywhere. I see them in
Harlem in front of the local Laundromat; in Washington Square Park against
the wire fence; and even surrounding the fountain in Columbus Circle.
Everywhere there are white, blue, yellow and red splotches of melted wax
coloring the concrete sidewalks, creating pools of rainbows on the ground.
Directly above, hundreds of flyers each with a photo and the word "MISSING"
wave desperately in the wind.
Sept.17th: I start reading a comic book Astro City. Reading about
superheroes that are here to save the day keeps me distracted,
if only for an hour. In these pages I dream. In that hour I fly.
Sept.22nd: My mother calls to see if Im okay. She is going to send
me a face mask
just in case. I put True Democracy on, open my comic
and listen to David Hinds wail, "Rejoice, Rejoice/ Good tidings I
bring you/ Blow away your bluesy feeling/
and take the world off
Student, Pakistani, Indiana
September 11th was described as the Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century.
I could not stop feeling like the whole day was a horrible coming home.
I was there when Pakistan was targeted repeatedly for terrorist attacks
while being the conduit for US aid to the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet
forces. Bomb blasts at crowded bus stops; unprecedented serial killings
of unprecedented violence and brutality, and increasing rates of drug
addiction due to drug trafficking from Afghanistan were some of the costs
Pakistan bore for helping America fight its war on a distant land. And
Afghanistan, in the end, was what brought the dreaded superpower to its
knees. Hard to remember, now that bin Laden has made Afghanistan his headquarters.
Jihad at that time was cool. General Zia with his Islamization policies
was supported by the US. The Afghans were armed by the US, but they fought
the USSR out of their land with the same spirit of jihad-struggle against
the forces of evil. To this day, Afghans are plagued with the impact of
the waran appalling rate of disabilities, landmines, poverty, lawlessness
and disorder. Did we pay attention to the Afghans when the Soviets were
retreating and the Afghans found themselves free but traumatized? Or is
it only when the Taliban started implementing their insane policies that
we turned our gaze toward Kabul?
So difficult for Americans to imagine how it must be to live from day
to day in the shadow of terror. We cant imagine the lives of Iraqi
mothers who, because of US sanctions, watch their infants die before their
eyes. We can imagine the lives of American mothers fearful for their childrens
safety in New York. We dont know how it is to experience aerial
bombings, together with collateral damage. We know what it is to look
toward the World Trade Center and to no longer find it there. We dont
know how it is to be herded together by Serbs, starved and killed in concentration
The terror is unprecedented, but Americans have no idea what it is to
Yet suddenly, yesterday, I felt like I did in a Third World country, full
of economic and political instability, surrounded by turmoil. Life was
suddenly unpredictable again.
At my home campus, Indiana University, yesterday alone six Muslim women
were harassed. Two of them were physically threatened. All over North
America, Muslim women who veil are being told to keep a low profile. Just
like women in Afghanistan.
Muslims in America are doubly attacked. To the fear of terrorism is added
the fear of undeserved revenge.
In all of the racist rhetoric against Muslims, Arabs and Islam, I felt
like my name was being associated with Osama bin Laden and my soul revolted
against that association. I am not bin Laden. I am not a terrorist. I
am a Pakistani Muslim Sufi woman. I have spent years doing multifaith
and intercultural work.
I am not Osama bin Laden. I speak Arabic, but not with him. I pray five
times a day, but not with him. I fast during Ramadan, but I do not break
bread with him. I believe in democracy, peace, conflict resolution, the
power of communication, justice, and compassion. When you fail to distinguish
between him and me, you belittle American beliefs and you sabotage American
We miss our loved ones, laugh with our friends, take the metro to work,
love a sunny day, bleed when you prick us. When schoolchildren speak in
stereotypes they have learned at home or on TV, our children are hurt.
We are upset when you send us a hurtful email, we are afraid when you
make threatening phone calls, we are poor when you will not employ us,
we are glad when you say we will stand together and that you understand
the difference between peace-loving Americans and terrorists.
We are your local doctors, your childrens schoolteachers, your cab
drivers from work, your neighborhood Seven-Eleven owners, your college
professors, your colleagues, your fellow students at school and university.
We are not Osama bin Laden.
Dont ever lump us together.
Student, African-American, Princeton NJ
Watching the Twin Towers fall on September 11th, my first thought as a
human being was for the thousands of people who were trapped within, unable
to escape and mere pawns in a game of ideological chess.
My second thought, however, influenced more by my identity as an African-American
woman, was that this was only the beginning. Countless more innocents
would be injured or killed on our nations streets as a result of
this abomination. And it would not be an external enemy perpetrating these
crimes but American citizens, individuals depriving others of the most
sacred of human rights the right to live. I had visions of anyone
with an Arab surname or remotely resembling an Arab to the indifferent
American eye being stopped at intersections, harassed, beaten. Storeowners
robbed and killed. And unfortunately, this prophesy, to some extent, has
In Chicago, an angry mob marches on a mosque. In New York, a Sikh man
is beaten senseless by an angry group of men. In Philadelphia, a group
of African-American men assault and batter a Muslim woman in front of
her young children. A statistic on CNN cited 230 such attacks have been
committed on college campuses alone. Even at our universities where the
fostering of intellect is thought to breed tolerance, people are not safe
In the rhetoric of GW and Colin Powell our higher purpose is freedom and
the morality of today is that of "eye-for-an-eye" vengeance.
However, the response of the United States government, rather than easing
my doubts and fears has increased them. The rhetoric of patriotism, acts
as a means of dividing as well as separating the people of this country.
This patriotism coupled with the language of revenge that we have been
inundated with since the 11th has contributed greatly to the attacks on
Arabs, Indians, Persians, and Muslims across the country.
I want justice done. I want those responsible to be punished. I do not
think this will be accomplished by murdering thousands of innocents. If
we choose this path, we too are terrorists. This goes well beyond the
actions of a few dozen men. It speaks of the suffering of millions across
the globe whose fear and uncertainty have turned to anger. Punish those
responsible, but leave the innocents alone. Unless we get to the root
of the problem, unless we come to understand the poverty and hopelessness
that resides in many countries across the globe and Americas contribution
to this state, we will never stamp out terrorism. Kill one terrorist and
you create a martyr to be praised and emulated. Kill hunger, disease,
and hopelessness and you create allies. And more importantly, you create
a morality within your own borders, a value for human life above material
gain that this nation sorely lacks.
Singer, Japanese-American, New York NY
Dust of Angels
Unable to find hope lost in rooms full of smoke.
People jumping out windows and running through our streets
covered in white dust of angels
that we could smell all the way in Brooklyn.
We light incense and white candles.
I see the spirits as I ride past Chambers Street on the C train.
I feel their confusion, everything happened so fast.
Bringing tears to my eyes and a new found pride in being American.
And now, the fear of whats next?
Or maybe we take each day as a Blessingholding our loved ones closer.
Every smile, every meal, every step, every song,
every time we exercise our freedom of speech.
Everyday appreciating being alive in a place where its up to me
to uplift my mind and get free.
Painter, African-American, Los Angeles CA
Could it be that in a past life over 7,000 souls swore it would be their
mission to die for a cause that would bring change to a world of chaos,
lies and extremities? Could it be, as I have once heard, I have no proof
or maybe I do
that the World Trade Buildings were
built on top of slave graves. That those grounds were where they dumped
the bodies of our ancestors that were "no good for selling nor trading."
I also wondered if they were the same souls as well. I often feel more
sorrow for our souls still trapped in the constrictions of our mind, emotions
and flesh. I struggle daily to find peace and happiness in this heavy
suit of blood and bone. I am certain that those spirits will return to
the new world in which they died for.
I admit, I am not well read on the Taliban. I dont know who was
flying that plane. No one does. People have assumed. I dont watch
the news. Im tired of hearing about it. I feel like Im being
made out to be an idiot, as if Im just suppose to swallow what I
am fed. I have too many conspiracy theories to contend with, to come to
a sound assessment of any of this. I think Chandra Levy knew about the
whole thing and was about to blow the whistle on the operation
me crazy, but hey do we know thats not true? How do we know those
images of the Afghanistans dancing in the street were about this? Those
could have been images from another time. I think we planned it, paid
for it, and trained for it. Its called New World Order, but hey,
none of that is neither here nor there in the larger picture.
All that I know is this has affected me. It has interrupted my inner peace,
the peace I thought I had acquired within. I now battle with my own extremes.
I fight my own personal battles of good over evil within myself. I have
lied. I have terrorized. I have blamed and I have denied. I have united
with others for a cause. I have believed in the American dream. And I
have donated, honestly, just to make room for new shit but hey I am American.
I am a product of this nation. I am a product of my environment and my
environment is a product of me. A reflection. Its time to really
change. Thats what this was, a Universal cry for change on every
level! This day has been predicted for centuries from every religious
scripture to the Sign of the Times CD. Every Prophet has predicted this
day. All we can do is have faith. Freedom has giving us the choice to
believe in so many things outside of ourselves that I wonder if we have
stopped believing in ourselves and the power of collective energy. Some
Jews, Christians and Buddhists will go to church and pray together, but
will blame the Muslims during the service. Just today a guy with 5 American
flags on his SUV cut me off and gave me the finger. Hows that for
unity? I bet hes in a hurry to vandalize the local 7-11.
I dont want to slander anyone. I really want to be at peace with
everyones cause of action and overstand the balance. It has to exist
for wisdom to exist. And where is wisdom? On the down low somewhere? Is
wisdom being censored? The only thing I can do is take responsibility
for myself. Im going to take action as I wish to see this nation
take action. I have to be honest and responsible for my own personal terrorist
attacks on myself and on others, I have to forgive and apologize to myself
for my evil doings and injustice. I have to honor every bit of me and
truly embrace myself. I have to honor being human. Ive got to become
at balance with myself so my environment will reflect and inspire balance.
Ive got to strip down all my pretensions, dissect my denial, admit
to my lies, honor my flaws become fearless of my own victory. The only
war there is to fight is the one with ourselves. Over 7,000 people died
for the sake of my happiness (again), the least I can do is honor the
cause of the dead and take my own personal action towards the effects
of the living. One person at a time.
Educator, Panamanian, Brooklyn NY
From the prominent display of the American flag on our businesses, homes,
and bodies, it has been made clear that America comes first. Any optimism
about a growing Black political or social consciousness has been replaced
by the red, white and blue. Seeing another community of color under attack
has apparently wiped away our historical role as the "least desirable"
race and, either as a show of thanks or an attempt to avoid any backlash,
we have sucked jingoism up like good BBQ sauce and joined the ranks of
the patriotic zealots we once despised. Its so bad we give Giuliani
props. Some black people have gone to great lengths to prove how patriotic
they are by publicly proclaiming this day as the day they became American.
Still others have gone so far as to shed their non-violent ways and fully
support Bushs efforts to attack innocent civilians in the Middle
East (with the utmost discretion, of course). And then theres me.
I cannot begin to fully comprehend the tragic loss of those who fell victim
to this atrocious act and am eternally respectful of the efforts of those
who went above the call of duty to maintain our confidence in the sanctity
of human life by spending countless hours in Ground Zero searching for
survivors. But I cannot bring myself to join in choruses of "God
Bless America" and drape myself in Old Glory. Americas conceit
does not sit well with me. I cannot be proud of a country that is largely
ignorant and boastful of its conquests. Its alleged economic prosperity
has done very little to uplift communities of color or the poor. The "white
noise" of patriotism is being blared with such ferocity that its
become increasingly harder to even hear my own heartbeat.
Journalist, Indian, Brooklyn NY
These are the ways the attack on New York has affected my life:
I had nightmares for seven days of overhead jets dropping bombs and a
loved one getting drafted.
I cried under the covers, on the couch, at my desk at work, on the phone
for innocent lives lost.
On the seventh day I dreamt seven of my friends shrunk to 13 year olds
and we were playing together.
I wanted to ask a man I love to marry me. I didn't ask.
I baked brownies and ate organic chocolate hazelnut ice cream.
I dropped to my knees and wept in front of constantly moving CNN triplicate
images. One of protests in northern Pakistan and underneath, their bright
red logo and then, moving typed headlines: Troops moving into northern
I read all the time. History books, newspapers, Internet essays, and in
between, for a playful, vulnerable break, Harry Potter and the Prisoner
I felt loved by so many people. And I realized who and how many I loved.
I felt different walking down the street. It was quiet. Sad. Surreal.
Strangers looked into my eyes. Smiled. Folks on the subway offered their
help. And men in business suits stopped like little boys in the Times
Square subway station. Life is going on all around them. But they are
stilled by the memorial of missing lost ones and candles still burning
and public debates about religion in a subway station soap box revival.
There are times when an old familiar sensation of being expelled, ostracized,
and ridiculed came to my body.
I felt angry and restless and sad by the simplified and mixed messages
on TV drawing a picture of our enemy without the complexities of global
history and current politics.
I feel terrible, restless, anxious about war.
Angel Kyodo Williams
Zen Priest, African-American, Brooklyn NY
The devastation of this day is staggering beyond measure.
We have all heard the radio, watched the television with our mouths gaping
in disbelief, our hearts wrenching in despair. We have heard talk of resolve
and determination. Plans for justice and retaliation. Unanswerable questions
being asked and unimaginable events being lived.
The fact is that as a culture and as a people, we are not equipped emotionally,
psychically and spiritually to manage the magnitude of this tragedy in
our minds. We have, mercifully, lived for so long under the dark shroud
of ignorance to the scope of our vulnerability.
I want to encourage you all, first and foremost, to be still. To listen
to your heartbeat. To be silent. To breathe. If you listen deeply, it
is the voice of sanity and compassion that you will find there. It is
the voice that will remind you of your connection with all beings.
We need to find peace in our own hearts first.
Many people find their ways to spiritual paths, to personal paths of transformation
when the ground they always knew to be there falls out from underneath
them. The ground has fallen out beneath us America. Let us all find the
wisdom to see this unspeakable tragedy as a doorway to meaningful change,
as a precursor to collective transformation. If we do not accept this
challenge, if we are not brave and unrelenting in our demand, but instead
cower behind the "quiet, unyielding" and clearly insatiable,
emotion of anger, the loss of thousands of lives will not be merely unspeakable,
they will be in vain.
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