ELMONT, L.I. — A single, terrifying acid attack on a 21-year old college student is opening the door to a larger conversation about racism, and unity in Elmont, Nassau County, Long Island.
So for Long Island resident and history teacher Christina Distanislao, it was an easy decision to join about two dozen other protesters Friday night, to offer their support not just for Nafiah Ikram but for the growing movement toward equality here on Long Island.
“I think Long Island is very divided right now,” said Distanislao. “It is divided between people that want to defend traditional systems that keep them comfortable and people that want change. To me, I just see it as racism vs. anti-racism.”
Protester Deborah Clark says she found out about the protest on social media and happily joined in.
“I think it’s bringing people together and people are finally recognizing that there’s problems and that there’s strength in numbers,” said Clark. “I just happened to be on Facebook and saw the notice about this march right now and I said, ‘you know what? This is my neighborhood — I been in Elmont 22 years — and I’ve never seen some of the nonsense that’s going on.”
Ikram, who is Southeast Asian and Muslim, did not make it out to this protest.
She told PIX11 News she does not believe her attack was a hate crime.
Still, protester Sarah Ma, who went to school in nearby Garden City, says it’s important for the Asian and Black communities to support one another in times of crisis.
“I don’t think there was a single day that I went to school and didn’t get called a slur,” she said. “And it’s not that I understand a Black person’s struggles because I never will. It’s the fact that we can understand each other’s fight for justice.”