Aug 31, 2010

Racism rears it's ugly head

I have lived a blissfully wonderful life here in Canada...you know, having been born and raised here (and my parents, and their parents and their parents...you get the picture) -- so growing up white in a white society wasn't that big of a deal for me...then I went all Muslim and ruined the whole thing.

Some of the reactions that I get are fairly typical such as this:

The loud talker -- this person wants to communicate with me but thinks either a) I can't speak English and speaking loudly will make me understand better or b) my scarf is made of sound proofing materials thus making my hearing ability severely reduced.  So, the result is this, "HELLO THERE!  CAN I HELP YOU?"

The Charades talker -- this person also thinks that I can't speak English and thus uses varying forms of body language to help me decipher what it is they're saying.  The result is this, "Hello there (waves).  Can I (points at self) help you (points at me)."

Then there is the polar opposite -- the people who are fluent in Arabic who speak to me in Arabic and then are upset with me as to why I can't respond.  It usually goes like this, "Ahlo sahlan..  Keif halik?  Min ein enti? Meen aalick?  Leish ma tahki mai?  Leish ma fahemtic al-Arabie??  Oh...you don't speak Arabic?  Why?  Why are you covered then??"

All of these people mean well, and I never really have a problem with them.  I'll politely explain that I can indeed hear them, or that I do understand English, or that I'm a convert to Islam...and it all goes over pretty well.  In the 12 years that I have been Muslim, I have never had to experience Racism....until a few days ago.

My daughter hurt her arm and so I was sent to the lab to get X-rays for her.  I walk into the relatively empty office and hand over the forms and such...I had my tiny terror, Adam, with me...he's wanting to open doors, and do things that every 2 year old wants to do...to prevent this, I grab a mask that the clinic has out for patients who may be ill -- I thought let the 2 year old pretend he's a doctor or Iron Man or something.  My goal was to prevent him from causing any major disruptions.

So, as I grab the mask for him and start showing it to him, this lady walks out...and as she passes me she says "Muslims are SO rude."

I was in shock for a moment...and replayed the event in my head -- did I bump into her? no.  Did I get in her way as she tried to leave?  No.  Did my kid do something to her?  No.  So I simply looked up and said "Excuse me?  What did I do that was rude?"  Her daughter looked back, but the mother kept walking...I turned to the secretary and asked her if she'd seen something that I missed.  She just replied with "That woman was a b*tch from the moment she walked in today."

Not an excuse.  It's is NOT an excuse to throw racist comments around -- go ahead and talk to me and call me whatever you want, but NOT IN FRONT OF MY KIDS!!!  How lovely that she not only demeaned me in front of 2 of my children, but was so freely willing to do so in front of her own.

My experience with Racism is hardly something worth mentioning -- it's so minor compared to what others have experienced - but I now understand how those who are victims of racism feel....and it's not cool.  A small part of me wants that woman to be a follower of my blog.  Maybe she was having a bad day, maybe she was just extra grumpy and had trouble controlling her tongue (God knows, that's happened to me before) -- but I want her to realize that her hatred spewing was wrong...I'd have been more than willing to have a conversation with her.  I have met more than my share of rude people who happened to be Muslim, but I could say the same thing about Christians, too -- with her being a prime example -- does it mean I call down all the followers of Christianity?  No -- that would be absurd, idiotic and racist...wouldn't it?

9 comments:

Amber said...

Ugh. I'm sorry that you had to deal with that. So many people are just jerks. I am a Christian and I'd like to say it for you - some Christians are so freaking rude that it is so apparent why much of the world hates them. I had an encounter with a friend, a Christian, today who left me so shocked at her words that I wanted to cut her out of my circle of friends.

Hopefully that woman was just having a bad day and she doesn't spout off horrible things like that on a daily basis, especially in front of her kids.

I hope the rest of your day was wonderful and sweet. HUGS

Hethr said...

Thanks Amber -- Things like this you can either let eat at you, or shrug it off to bad taste...I chose to turn the other cheek. I certainly appreciate the cyber hugs though!

NanLT said...

Unfortunately, I have found that a woman who will speak like that in front of her children, speaks like that all time.

Just don't take it personal. It's her problem, not yours.

C said...

Asalaamu alaikum

I really wanted to hear her answer! Guess she didn't have one. I've experienced a lot of islamphobia since I've become muslim ie being yelled at in my car at a stop light "why did you bomb the twin towers?" Man I haven't even been to NY in my life! Living on the border I was so fearful at that time that I hid in my house for 2 months! I have lots of stories. Before I became muslim I thought a lot of racism stories were kind of exaggerated but becoming a muslim has opened my eyes and I regret that I didn't understand fully the pain that people were experiencing. But I did know about the renting thing. My first husband was also asian and I would go and find apts for us because I knew they would just assume that my dh was white too. But with hijab I can't pull that off anymore with my second asian husband. Well at least the secretary didn't gang up on you!

Dwan said...

What I really appreciate here are your conclusions. Much love to you for turning your cheek. And *hugs* -- I'm so sorry that happened to you!

All my best....

Keahn said...

As for the shouting, it's not for you -- it's for them. Some people just like to hear themselves talk. The louder they talk the more they feel like they are engaging in some sort of social phenomenon. It could also be for their supervisor -- so that they appear to actually be working.

Your rudness was not bowing when a b***h allowed you to share space with her as she walked by. What were you thinking?

I have known children who have been raised in some horrible conditions in life and hear a higher calling -- perhaps her daughter looked back because she will be one of those children.

As for the remark,"Oh...you don't speak Arabic? Why? Why are you covered then?" Well, it reminds me of a remark my husband once made to me. BHKHWMFM (before he knew he was meant for me), WHTIWG (when he thought I was gay) because I hung out with gay gals, he overheard me talking about going to mass and said, "You're Catholic? I thought you were gay."

It was such a nonsensical remark that, well, I just HAD to marry him. :-)

Take heart, dear FB friend.

Hethr said...

@ Keahn -- lmao -- I so wish I knew you IRL. Your husband and I have similar stories. BIKHWMFM (Before I knew he was meant for me) WITHWG (when I thought he was gay) I used to make fun of him with the other gals at work!

Crystal said...

Being caucasian tend to skew our world views in regards to racism I'm afraid. While I grew up most oblivious in the rural south, I can still remember a time when the small towns in my county held public klan rallies and the town of Smithfield had a giant billboard along side I-95 featuring hooded men which read "The Knights of the Klu Klux Klan welcome you." WTF?

Discrimination is the the same ugly beast whether it is directed at race, religion, nationality, gender, etc & is nothing but hatred & ignorance.

My own father who I had been estranged from for nearly a year, turned & walked out of the first home I'd ever owned (which he'd never visited) because I asked him to remove his shoes at the door... he was certain that it was some kind of Islamic terrorist ritual.

People are assholes Heather. Sometimes all we can do is take the high road & know that we are better for it.

Umm Amirah said...

dislike is hard for anyone to take..especially for NO reason. Just remember that when someone does you wrong..you are given their good deeds. Carry around your barakat basket with a big smile on your face....you'll need those in the NEXT life...iA.

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