American Hate: Survivors Speak Out
Destinee Mangum and Walia Mohamed weren’t supposed to be on the MAX Light Rail train in Portland, Oregon, the day Jeremy Joseph Christian boarded and began yelling at them that “Muslims should die.” The teenagers had gotten lost and were just trying to navigate their way back home.
“It’s like our faces were a trigger. I felt like he was attacking me because I was wearing a hijab; Destinee was wearing something on her head, too. He was yelling stuff about Muslims and Christians as well. Plus, we’re both black. He was racist and didn’t like that either,” Mohamed says in Survivors Speak Out (The New Press).
American Hate, edited by Arjun Singh Sethi — a community activist, civil rights lawyer, and law professor based in Washington, D.C. — is a collection of first-person accounts from victims of hate crimes that have happened since the 2016 presidential election season. Sethi reads from and discusses
on Thursday, Nov. 15, at Collected Works Bookstore, in an event co-sponsored by United World College, Montezuma; Desert Academy; Community Peace Radio; Las Vegas Peace & Justice Center; and Warehouse 21.
Christian yelled at Mohamed and Mangum for several minutes until a trio of young men took action. “They didn’t even know each other. They just wanted to help,” Mohamed says. She doesn’t remember what happened next. Mangum saw a knife. And then Christian began stabbing. Ricky John Best and I Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche died in the attack. The third man, Micah DavidCole Fletcher, was injured. The girls ran away as fast as they could.
Mohamed and Mangum received many letters of support from the public, but they didn’t welcome the media attention — or the death threats from people who agreed with Christian’s point of view. They are grateful to the men who died trying to protect them, but they no longer feel safe. They wish that their community was more supportive of their ongoing trauma. At school, no one checks on them. “Not the counselors. Not the teachers,” Mangum says. “Nobody asks us if we’re feeling comfortable. Nobody asks us if we need help or anything. We only have each other.”
“What we need to be doing in this moment is supporting and standing up for one another. The best defense is community. The best shield to state and hate violence is solidarity. We’ve seen a wonderful example of that in just the last few days, when the Muslim community raised tens of thousands of dollars to support the Jewish community in Pittsburgh after the Tree of Life massacre,” Sethi said in an interview that took place two days after Robert Bowers allegedly opened fire in a Pennsylvania synagogue after yelling anti-Semitic slurs, killing 11 people and injuring four first responders.
“My book very intentionally includes perspectives from so many different communities — including Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs, Jews, refugees, queer and trans folks, and many others — because all of those communities are experiencing heightened forms of hate in this political moment. We should have recognized long ago that Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist who has incited and emboldened hate across this country. His political appointments, rhetoric, and policies unequivocally show this. Policies like the Muslim ban, the refugee ban, the