Thursday, August 17, 2006

My friend was born in the US, but his parents are from Palestine. He is an amazing guy; smart, funny, social, and aware. He moved to another city for work but yesterday, he called and said he was in town, so we ended up having a nice lunch together.

We were sitting in a nearby eatery, enjoying the strangely pleasant weather while sipping our identical espressos. He started to tell me about the prestigious law firm he works at, how cut-throat it was when he first started, the implicit discrimination he faced, and the like. After a while he stopped, looked up at the pale sky and frowned, “You know, two weeks ago the strangest thing happened to me at work.” I shook my head and raised my eyebrows, encouraging him to go on. “I walked by a woman’s office when she stopped me and suddenly said, ‘I’m sorry. I have to tell you about this. It’s been bothering me for the longest time. I know this might sound racist but I am very afraid of you. You just look so much like those guys on the news. I just want to know your political beliefs.’”

I was flabbergasted, “Are you kidding me! She actually said that! How old is she? And does she work in your department?”

He told me she was about his age – late 20’s/early 30’s – and no, she did not work in his section.

“So, what did you say?”

My friend, with his deep set green eyes and jet black hair, breathed heavily, stretched his defined body on the metal chair and replied, “I don’t know. At first, I was shocked. I probably should’ve just walked away because the whole thing was ridiculous. I was born in the US for God’s sake! But I asked her two questions: Is she afraid of me because I look like the Arab terrorists on television and does she want me to tell her my political views so she would not be scared of me.”

“And?” I inquired.

“Well, she quickly said yes to both questions. I just looked at her, still in disbelief mind you, and said, ‘Take care.’ And you know the thing that really pissed me off is that she kind of got to me. I went to the bathroom and looked at my face, trying to see what it is she is scared of. And to think this comes from an educated woman! Imagine the rest of the masses!”



Seriously. Imagine.


PS's...
Depeche Mode - In Your Room (Portishead Remix)
DJ Shadow Ft. Nump - Keep 'Em Close
DJ Shadow Ft. Cris James - Erase You
DJ Shadow - The 3rd Decade, Our Move

at 6:15 AM

20 Comments

  1. Blogger Jandeef posted at 6:55 AM  
    Can't even imagine
  2. Blogger junoony posted at 7:37 AM  
    i'm speechless.. i have no speech
  3. Blogger Purgatory posted at 7:50 AM  
    Even if he was born in the states, and by law he is considered an american, he is not an american and never will be, same as with african americans, hispanic or latino american (however you want to call them), asian american, etc.

    It is a different world now and it will get worst.
  4. Blogger Temetwir posted at 8:07 AM  
    what i need to know is if he actually thinks of them as terrorists or if he just said it in terms the woman would understand
  5. Blogger Delicately Realistic posted at 8:24 AM  
    Unbelievable. The ignorance.
  6. Blogger MissCosmoKuwait posted at 9:35 AM  
    Poor thing...that must've been really weird for him...I heard they will be screening people at the airport based on looks and religion...which is..in itself...ridiculous...

    How ironic to be born in the "land of opportunity"...and to be told such a thing....

    What is so sad is that those Arabs that couldn't take unfairness in the Arab World...and decided to move to the West to find peace of mind...here they are in the West being haunted from the very thing they left the East for...harram!
  7. Blogger Kthekuwaiti posted at 10:08 AM  
    "I heard they will be screening people at the airport based on looks and religion"

    They will be?? They have been doing it; I have been chosen for "Random Security Checks" everytime I flew in America since 2001.

    While it would be common to blame the lady in this situation; I believe the finger should be pointed elsewhere. She obviously is not close with any arabs/arab-americans (since she is unaware of their religous/political beliefs). Which means she came to this conclusion through other avenues (friends/media).

    I actually think she did the right thing, albiet in the worst way possible. If he engaged her, explained who he is and his political beliefs .. then he could probably change her prespective on the matter. And that new prespective goes beyond her own bubble..
  8. Blogger الزهرمار posted at 3:02 PM  
    طيزي يحكني وايد
    لايكون فيني إسكارس من كثرة أكلي بالمطاعم
    أو من الفلفل والمعبوج ليل نهار
    فيه عندكم علاج حق حكة طيزي?
  9. Blogger الزهرمار posted at 3:02 PM  
    طيزي يحكني وايد
    لايكون فيني إسكارس من كثرة أكلي بالمطاعم
    أو من الفلفل والمعبوج ليل نهار
    فيه عندكم علاج حق حكة طيزي?
  10. Blogger Raine posted at 7:20 PM  
    What a terrible, terrible thing for him to experience. Sadly, that kind of thing is going to happen more and more all over the world as long as we more moderate Arabs/Muslims allow the more extreme faces on the news to represent Arabs/Islam. These extremists are the voices and faces that the world sees. If we want it to change, we have to stop allowing them to represent us. We have to condemn what they stand for. We have to separate our identities/beliefs from theirs. Unfortunately, right now we are all lumped under the same umbrella... Fair? No. Ignorant? Yes. but are we blameless? I don't think we are... I think we have to take responsibility for not being more vocal, more active, more in control of how we want to be perceived. No, it is not all our fault. But we cannot point fingers forever. Your friend did not like seeing himself though that ignorant woman's eyes. I totally feel for him. I, too, hate being associated with these hysterical, extremist "Muslims" (in quotations because they deem themselves to be Muslims, but I can disagree with that). So hopefully, as more and more Arabs/Muslims realize their religion/identity has been usurped by these types of people, a stand will be taken that will evoke change and progress...
  11. Blogger Erzulie posted at 9:18 PM  
    Jandeef: Yup...

    Junoony: Yeah well that's one reaction...

    Purg: Yeah that's true. But in terms of getting a job there, he has it much easier than, for example, other Arabs who are actually non-US citizens who do face many obstacles in their career here.

    temi: So she could understand.

    DR: Yeah I know. And it's sad because only the cream of the crop make it through this firm in particular.

    MissCosmo: Well they do screen people based on their looks, name, and nationality. And those Arabs in particular will always be outcast in society wherever they are in the world, unfortunately. I don't think you can claim two identities at once.

    K: Yeah I do blame the infotaining media as well. And when he told me about his "Take care" reply to her, I asked him why he didn't say something else. He then said that he wanted to have a neutral caption since people at work always see him as "The Other" i.e. he wants to avoid anymore bias. I personally would've explained it to her, but:
    1- He was too offended and taken back.
    2- He does not want to mix personal life and politics with work.
    3- He does not have a lot of material to work with since her initial outlook was "all the way down there."


    elzahr: Salvage your love life and see a doc before it's blocked...forever :)


    raine: I agree with every single word you said. I don't think that this would be solved in our lifetime; it's going to take time. It's hard to voice your opinions in a media that is lobbied mostly by people who want you taken out, who label you as the ignorant, primitive, and fascist creature. Unfortunately, the ignorant, primitive, and believe it or not, fascist creatures are the ones who broadcast their opinions for the sake of Islam and God, the ultimate justification for their actions not matter how hypocritical they are of the original holy text.

    But yes, something must be done or it's going to snowball into one massive nuclear jungle.
  12. Blogger Fallen Angel posted at 11:56 PM  
    I remember that I always thought my "white skin" was a curse back when I was a Kid especially when you are in middle school and some kids pick on you and say: Ya Zalamah. They thought I'm a Lebanese just because I have a white skin (me and my brother are the only people in my Father's side of the family who have a lighter skin than there's cuz we got the skin pigment from our mother side of the family).

    Now, I think it is a blessing. People here do not assume I am an Arab just because I have a lighter skin...I tell ya, they really get surprised when they know my name or see my credit card. I dunno, if I should be happy because of that or sad and pathetic.....*sigh*
  13. Blogger MBH posted at 2:52 PM  
    Why is it so strange?
    For people to have their president with an I.Q. less than a monkey's, that's quite normal.
  14. Blogger BLaSha posted at 3:52 PM  
    LOOOL!! Agree with MBH
  15. Blogger Erzulie posted at 8:51 PM  
    Fallen: I'd go with sad and pathetic...

    Just kidding! :P
    Yeah I know what you mean. Some people have it harder than others in terms of looks and such.

    MBH: LOL yeah :P

    Blasha: Yeah he defines stupidity. I love watching him mess up when he's doing his speeches sans any paper to guide him. King of Grammatical Mistakes.
  16. Blogger Bloo posted at 9:57 PM  
    i would not be so surprized. the americans access to news is narrowed to one view. ignorance is running the show.
  17. Blogger error posted at 1:15 AM  
    There was this show called club700 , my GOD! I USED TO BOIL WHEN WATCHING IT!! reflects this ignorant view
  18. Blogger Erzulie posted at 4:14 AM  
    bloo: Media lobbyists :/

    error: Isn't that the Christian show or something of that sort?
  19. Blogger digital nomad posted at 10:20 PM  
    That story was like a punch in the gut. The first thing I would think, "undercover FBI." Paranoid, but realistic too. *shrug*
  20. Blogger Erzulie posted at 9:57 AM  
    digitalnomad: Heh yeah that's possible! My first thought was "How ignorant" (and rude for that matter...)

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