White America; the beer, the red pickup trucks, and the ignorance. Don’t get me wrong, I love America with all its freedom and all day McDonald’s breakfast. It’s just the few moments that when someone that’s lived a cushy, little life open their mouth and spew out something that could only be said if you live a life with such little self-awareness.
Let me be a little clear- I am an Arab American growing up in an 85% white community. To some, I was like the Air Force One Photo Op Incident. Some were caught off guard because I looked a little different. Trust me when I tell you, I get the same cup of coffee and pour the cereal before milk as anyone else in my class. Although, no matter how ordinary I seem, I’ll always hear some unnecessary things from a couple of Becky’s and Sally’s.
Here’s the top eight comments I’ve gotten from white Americans:
1.“Wait if you’re Muslim, how can you be American?” Let me make this VERY clear, Sally Saltine; Islam is a religion. Being American is a nationality. I am a Muslim American and yes, that exists because the two things do not clash. Know the difference the same as how you can tell the difference between Starbucks and Dutch Bros.
2. “Why do you talk so white?” I speak the same proper English as you do. I am very, very sorry that I don’t have an accent to match my ethnicity-because, obviously if I spoke in an accent you would still treat me the same if I didn’t, right?
3. “Do your people actually get 72 virgins in the afterlife?” Really? You’re gonna believe something you heard in Fox News that’s being said by a radicalized Islamic terrorist group. Really? Do you not realize that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all fall under the three main religions? As in, they share the same general morals?
4.“Are you from Islam?” Have you never read an article or seen someone that looks different than you? It’s a religion; not a state. I’ve lost all hope for anyone when they ask this question.
5.“That’s so cool that you’re exotic! So you’re Arabic?” That’s a language. Is it really that difficult to understand that Arabic is a language and that my ethnicity is Arab? You can all memorize everyone the Kardashians dated but can’t bother to differentiate the politically correct terms. Just do it out of respect.
6.“Look, I’m almost as tan as you!” I was in my freshmen year of high school when I wore a neon yellow T-shirt thinking that I was the hippest thing around; a walking ET News! I was minding my business listening to Taylor Swift and bopping my head so casually when this white girl comes up to me with freshly braided cornrows in her hair from her trip in Mexico. She scurries over with a giant grin eagerly hidden away on her face and practically rips off her to sleeve to compare her sun kissed arm to my olive one. She was so giddy that she was almost as dark as I am and I had to control myself from letting the doors swing open with hysterical laughter.
7.“Was English hard for you to learn?” Girl, I was born straight from Portland, Oregon unlike your San Diego behind. Want to know what’s even better than speaking perfect English? Speaking rapid Arabic, habibti.
8.“You look Mexican or something, no way you’re Arab!” It might come as a bit of a shocker but just because different races are shades of brown, doesn’t mean we are all the same. People come from different skin, features, and speak in different tongues.
It really isn’t that hard to be informed. Pick up a book; read an article; watch the news. Recognize that you may hold a privilege in this country; built on the foundation of white supremacy. Don’t become a prey to the system that you live a cushy, little life while hearing the muffled voices and gasps from those who cannot speak up. Be aware that while we all speak in different tongues, those same tongues can be a jagged knife to tear open wounds or leave them as fading scars. Be educated that others live around you in the world that are different from you and you have to respect that. Doesn’t matter who you are; you just do. Don’t be like Sally Saltine; respect everyone’s differences and cultures.