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The Feeling of Being Watched: Community Screening Healing Guide

How To Use This Guide

"But what are the feds looking for, and after years of seemingly fruitless surveillance, how is their continued scrutiny and racial targeting justified? Equal parts angry and anxious, Boundaoui’s smart, unsettling documentary functions both as a real-world conspiracy thriller and a personal reflection on the psychological strain of being made to feel an outsider in one’s own home."

-Guy Lodge | Variety

In film screenings across the country, community members have expressed experiencing a wide range of emotions as they bore witness to filmmaker’s Assia Boundaoui’s journey to uncover one of the largest counter terrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” Community members have described feeling “scared, proud, angry, confused, surprised, discouraged, frustrated, sad, proud and grateful.”

There is no doubt that wide-spread government surveillance of Muslims in the U.S. has caused profound collective trauma. However, we often talk about surveillance in a legal or civil rights framework. Yet, secrecy and unchecked surveillance are eroding the health and stability of Muslim communities across the U.S. and we simply aren't talking enough about it. This guide is intended to help impacted communities began an open dialogue about the psychological impact of racism, discrimination, profiling and surveillance. As community members, organizers, student leaders and activists across the country we can change the narrative of fear that has plagued our neighborhoods for far too long. Together, we can use the film as a catalyst to create safe spaces that allow our communities to come together, discuss the impact of surveillance on our lives, build power, and heal.

This guide is intended to help facilitate these long overdue and critical conversations within the Muslim and Muslim-American community. This is not a time for debate, but of reflection and dialogue. It is a time to identify the ways in which we have been traumatized and together begin a journey to process these troubling experiences.

There are three ways to utilize the resources included in this guide:

  1. Before watching the film: take time to process the possible triggers you may feel and prepare for the film prior to watching it. In anticipation, we gathered several resources you can draw on during this period of processing.
  2. During the film: take time throughout the film to evaluate your pulse. Breath in, check in and check out, if necessary. If you feel the need to stop watching the film, jump right into page 5 of the guide.
  3. After the film: once you are feeling activated, the guide contains three questions you can answer in a group setting.

The information is a helpful roadmap for a generative conversation to guide the group through a process of collective healing. All should be empowered to utilize these guiding questions as needed, or create new questions together. In order to engage openly with members of the community, all should feel welcome to supplement this guide with relevant and helpful tools.