Sayyad Milne, 14 years old.

Muslim, a lad, a student, a footballer. Whatever label we gave you, it cannot now ever be criminal, captain of industry, the next social media superstar. We are sorry you died for one label only without your chance to become everything.

News reports have posted two very different expressions of solidarity, bravery and rejection of terror from complete strangers to me and most likely the community of the victims too.

Both acts of sympathy were viewed with initial suspicion.

Me, I cried all over again at both, and wished I had thought to do the same. But I don’t know the haka, and I certainly couldn’t rally enough people to join me to offer the security service I fear I would need, not to mention who would believe lil ole me could keep anyone safe. I fear ridicule, rejection, catwhistles (I know that sounds vain but it is my current experience world at play here).

Did you read my excuses? And judge them so? Well fair enough, you are surely right.

But I can do this one act - I can change the way I act that perpetuates my own fear and ignorance of those in the community I don’t know.

I can stop and think. Next time I catch myself making a judgement about someone from their clothes, their colour, their religion or their politics, I will get onto Facebook, find a contact and send a message asking for information. So that the next judgement I make will at the very least be one piece of information more informed.

Today I plucked up the courage (seriously I need to get a grip - I live 5000 miles away from Christchurch and it is just a polite message to men who did yesterday what I wished could have  - and still I think I need bravery!), I instant messaged Black Power via Facebook – perhaps something they tell me I thought will help me be a little less scared when I pass tattooed men in the street – if I get a response I will share it.

Sayyad were you ever scared when you walked down the street? I heard A TED radio talk recently where a black 12 year old in the States was arrested in the street walking home from school. When he finally got home to his mother he told her he wanted to just run home to Mum. She said "Thank goodness you didn't. Never run or it will be a whole lot worse for you." Her lad asked her why, and when it would stop...

To Sayyad's mother who will see the entire world through tears for the rest of her life, I hug you and wish I was brave enough to do so should I meet you in the street one day. Until then I will try to ask one more question before I judge strangers so that your son lives on through the acts of your extended whanau.

If it is good enough for those I grew up believing to be my greatest source of fear and terror to get out and stand strong, for kiwi and community, not to mention be written of in the same sentence as olive branches …


This is a Call to Action to kiwis who want to do something with their sadness and rage, and use social media to reduce fear and promote unity through knowledge and awareness.