It’s a week on from the horror that our Muslim community faced in Christchurch. It’s a week on that my son was in lockdown at a school near the mosque and a week on since our nation lost its innocence to terrorism.
And so today, a week on, we mourned as a nation with a call to prayer and two minutes of silence.
It’s also a day we called Headscarf for Harmony, a day for New Zealand women to don headscarfs in a show of solidarity with our Muslim sisters.
So, in my small town I was out and about in my scarf. I was stared at, commented on, complimented, and even found myself trying to brave up and get up to tell some English git that his loudly expressed chauvinistic racist sentiments about Filipino women and laughter about Muslims were exactly the layers of commentary that enabled and encouraged the gunman, giving him permission to believe in himself and his vile manifesto.
I was trying to work up the courage to walk up to him but he got up and left. Everything he was saying was abhorrent yet the thought of confronting him was awful – although nothing compared to what went on in the mosques last week.
What can I say? Nothing we say or do will ever bring those 50 people back. But shame on that man and his casual racism. Here’s to courage and breaking that norm. Here’s to facing up to the bigots and not standing for their hateful remarks. Here’s to a New Zealand that we want to believe in and a New Zealand brave enough to say no to these people.
It might be a week on, but for most of us, the biggest challenge is just beginning. It’s time to shut down the passing comments and stop tolerating racism.