I don't often accept advance reading copies of books because I already have so many books I haven't read and I don't like to take a book if I'm not fully committed to reading it, especially for free. However, when I was offered I Refuse to Condemn, I had to think twice. I Refuse to Condemn is a collection of chapters by writers from a range of disciplines and experiences centred around the racialisation of national security discourse and practice.
This is a topic that I am deeply concerned about at a theoretical and macro level. As a Muslim living in the UK, I have inevitably been affected by some of the problems and situations explored in this book. I have only read the editor Asim Qureshi's introduction so far; yet, in those few pages, I have already found familiarity in the scenes described. However, in terms of personal experience, I think it's something I try not to think about. My general approach is to focus on my own actions, on trying to be a positive member of society and not dwelling on how the antagonism of state policies and attitudes might be trying to pull me back.
When I read the description of this book, though, I decided maybe it was time for me to open that box of avoided feelings and look directly at the psychological and emotional effects of this antagonism. It was my hope that by exploring the thoughts of those who have taken a different approach to this experience, I can understand myself, the experiences of others and the construction of such systems better. I was surprised to read in the introduction that I was not alone in this aspiration, as Asim Qureshi echoes it in his introduction: "Perhaps one of the most surprising things about this volume is the way in which the contributors helped to complicate my own understanding of this deeply difficult subject".
I hope that by reading this book, I will be able to understand my own psychological and emotional responses better, so that I can be more empathetic, constructive and nuanced in the way I deal with this subtle (for me) yet unavoidable aspect of my and many others' present lives.
I Refuse to Condemn is available to purchase in the UK from today, 15th November 2020, and is set to be released on 12th January 2021 in the US, in sha Allah.
Reader. Occasional writer. Muslim.
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