“Je Suis Charlie,” therefore, I am America

Terrorism still seems to be defined as a massive attack between National and International states, however, a Nation’s internal violence overturns the image of what it means to be in world dispute. Although the attacks of 9/11 have injected a pathology that America is a target for socio-political challenges, recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo in France by two, Islamist gunmen and Boko Haram’s destruction in Nigeria demonstrates the necessity of all Nations to center themselves as socio-economic advancement for world peace. America’s solidarity with France and Nigeria is not only a foreign policy, but a reflection of domestic responsibility, as liberation in America is in proportion to liberation in France and Nigeria.

Following attacks on the French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo, “Je Suis Charlie” has become both a statement for free speech and a testament of enslavement to silence about violence. America’s foreign and domestic politics have intensified, recently involving ISIS, a terrorist group who killed American journalists after holding them hostage, and American cops, whose harassment of minorities holds America back as a symbol of world peace. The increasing international turmoil has not made issues nationally any more or less important, but rather, highlights how violence, small or large, is terrorism.

When a state suffers attacks such as those in public spaces, citizens can be subject to the impression that violence abroad is different from violence in America, but when the violence is state-sanctioned, a trajectory of violence and victimization is created. Nationalism is not an exemption from violence, if a Nation is still participating in violent activity, and neither is an individual identity crisis over the effects of violence, if not used to inform other citizens. The paradigm of reacting to violence as if it is not applicable to certain persons, spaces, or times is present in views on freedom, in that we are alarmed of a need to be free from the terror of violence, but we may not always agree on what our freedom means, due to a lack of certain promise, purpose, and practice behind persons, spaces, and times.

Particularly, the civil rights struggle in America has been reduced to the idea that it is “a black struggle,” making anyone who does not identify as black or poor feel rejected from its liberation. What it means to initiate a fight for freedom is not to be necessarily black or poor, but oppressed because one is black or poor, and movements led by specific ethnic or economic status is liberated through such philosophies on equality. Civil rights movements expose how being black in America may be different from what it means to be black in France and Nigeria, as terms such as, “white” and “black” are predominately American, but what it means to be an American, Frenchmen, or Nigerian, regardless of racial, economic, or gender association, is still exposed to massive violence. “Black Power,” therefore, has never meant any more or less than “Je Suis Charlie,” and that is not only a declaration of freedom, but equality post-freedom.

The campaign “Bring Back Our Girls” was created as a relief effort for over 300 children kidnapped in Nigeria, just as “Je Suis Charlie” supports the publication in France and “Black Lives Matter” is a fight against America’s race problem, yet questions still surround motives behind massive violence to understand the acts of terrorism. Charlie Hebdo’s satire of Islam perpetuated extremism from gunmen, however, Boko Haram has long been dictating violence in Nigeria, which suggests that there are misunderstandings of terrorism not simply because of its horrific nature, but because of the differences in a policy and philosophy of a state that has been terrorized. In some cases of terrorism, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, terror is the philosophy, but in others, such as Charlie Hebdo in France, implementing offensive ideas can be a threat that causes terror. To justify terrorism is a stretch of an imagination that I do not have, but to understand massive acts of violence is to conceptualize what triggers violence. If we are to overcome the terror that is violence, we must view violence between states as a reflection of the state’s philosophy within, which dispels the two, most dominating myths about terrorism: that it is only a massive attack and that it is only a massive attack from an outside state.

Considering terrorism’s myths of motive and meaning then, the violence of George Zimmerman, Daniel Panteleo, and Darren Wilson on black males in America is no different to the terrorism of Boko Haram and the 2 gunmen in France, as violence is a terror we are all fighting. Each attack speaks to the maginitude of the fight for freedom, and how freedom of speech is not only an American ideal, but world solidarity. Politics of terrorism do not manipulate the results of terrorism on a Nation, however, they do enhance our understanding of both causes and results. If we are to effectively fight violent acts, we must subject ourselves to the ideology of a violent regime, which is not a justification for violence, but a commitment to exploit how unjust violence makes a society and its individuals. Where violence divides our Nationalism, our non-manipulated view on violence connects our humanism.

Today, I pray for world peace.



Sister Kahrima





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