I had encountered very few prejudice behavior toward me. The first ever one was back in 1991 while I was working in a gas station told me that he was coming back with a gun to send me back home. I laughed..yelled at him, and cursed him. He never came back, but this was a situation where I was called “sand nigger”. Luckily it was just a simple words exchange.
In another situation, I was denied apartment because the guy found out I was arab. This is funny. Ok..I had a girl roommate, but also a girlfriend when we felt the urge to enjoy a night, or if her boyfriend wasn’t around. This is complicated and I wish I can explain more, but lets leave it at that for now. So she was helping me locating an apartment for she was going to have her boyfriend move in with her. So she called this add, and the guy told her to come and take the apartment. We both went there, and as soon as the guy saw me, he wasn’t happy. So he was asking who is moving in, and she told him that this guy is. He said “sure no problem, give me your address and I’ll send you the application”. The girl said “but you do have applications right here” and the owner quickly said “those are old needs updating”. She offered to pay the security deposit now, and he declined. I knew what was cooking in his mind. I was just sitting down and enjoying seeing my babe yelling at the guy. She eventually told him that she thinks he is a racist. He said “come on lady, he even can’t speak English, and didn’t say a word since he came in, how can I let him live here?”. So I got up, and told him what I thought about him (very honestly of course), and told him that I knew he wasn’t going to give me the apartment because of my ethnicity, but I didn’t care. I also indicated to him that I am not going to enjoy spending my money on a scum like him, and I walked out with the girlfriend.
So I did hear some “sand nigger” and “camel jockey” and that sort of things, but it was all harmless. The worst cases of prejudice I encountered where to my surprise from immigrants, like myself. One time was when I was going with my wife to immigration in 2002. The wife decided to wear the veil few weeks before that. So, we approached the help disk. There was an Egyptian guy that works there. He was mean, rude, so nasty, and very mean to us. I didn’t like his way of treatment. I demanded to see his supervisor. He laughed and said “go home” in Arabic. I said that I wasn’t allowing anyone to approach the window until I see his supervisor, and I didn’t move. So a security guard came to me, and that’s when my wife paniced. She tried to get me out of there, but I didn’t move. I know my rights in this country and I know my duties, and I wasn’t going to back off. The guard approached me and said “what do you want?” with a tone that wasn’t happy. I kindly requested that I have a right to see this man’s supervisor because he was very mean the way he’s dealing with me, yet he was smiling and happy when he dealt with the Romanian babe that was a head of me. I told him exactly that.
So the guard burst into laughing when I said “Romanian babe” and said hang on man, we’ll get you the supervisor. So I complained to the supervisor, and told him what happened. He apologized, but told me to go home now, and we’ll follow up in 8 weeks. I was ok, as long as the guy was kind to me, so I went home. Hen I mentioned the story to my friends, they all knew the guy who works there. A Coptic Egyptian man. So I quickly called one of my greatest teachers in school, who was the priest of the Coptic Church in Cleveland, and he was Coptic of course. We visited him in his house, and truly he is such a nice person. I told him the story of immigration, and he laughed and said yes he comes to my church and I always get complains from my muslim friends about him. He assured me not to worry next time I go there. Indeed, things went so smooth after that.
The other time was at my previous job. In early 2006, and after the prophet’s cartoon’s incident, a Hispanic man approached me. His name was Gonzales, and I knew the guy for few years at the job. He is a technician working in the plant. So anyway, he usually comes and asks me about arabs and muslims all the time, but I could feel in his voice that he has some kind of prejudice against us, yet he is able to control it. So anyway, I knew he was going to act silly. I almost reported him to HR few weeks ago because of his remarks on muslims. So anyway, he asked me about the cartoons, and I told him what I thought. Then after debates and cautious exchange, he told me “why do you people burn flags and chop heads because of a cartoon, this is not the desert anymore”. I paused fo seconds and said “you people?” then one of the engineers walked into my office, and Gonzales left. But I was still burning inside. I have heard a Hispanic guy telling me “you people”. That’s when I decided to go to his boss, and complained. I asked him if it was going to cause him his job, and he said “too late to ask such questions, this is our policy and when it comes to racism or prejudice, we have a 0 tolerance policy” I then told his boss that I wanted to withdraw my complaint for I hated anyone losing his job. He refused and said “I was trying to fire this guy for so many years, but was scared because he was the only Hispanic guy here, and was worried of being labeled racist, but he is lazy, immature, doesn’t do a good job, and all engineers complain from his work” that made me fool comfortable.
But there was that one time that I was treated very bad and couldn’t do anything about it. Again, this was probably 1990 or 91. I was driving my car and was stopped by police. He got out of his car, approached me. “can I see your driver’s license and registration please” he asked. I gave him both and asked what did I do? He then demanded my insurance, and I said what did I do? He asked me again “sir, I’m going to ask you for the last time, show me your insurance”. I said “sir, I’m not going to show you my insurance till you tell me why your stopping me”. So he made me get out of the car, booked me, and threw me in the back of his car. So I spent a night in jail, and in the morning, I saw the judge.
The judge was asking me “whats your name” I was still confused, this was the first time I see a courtroom. He replied “whats wrong, are you ashamed of your name?” Now I got more confused. I have a judge who is angry at me. “No I’m not, why would I?” He was still angry “I ask the questions here, and you answer. You are accused of resisting arrest and failing to provide identification, so state your name and how you plea”. I told him my name and that the cop is not telling the truth because he has my drivers liscence, and that I do have insurance and didn’t resist arrest, and then plead –no-contest hoping to get with the least problems. So he fined me a hefty fine, and let me free. Normally, judges let people go because of time served. One day in jail was supposed to be enough punishment, even for a crime I didn’t commit. So I walked out of the court, with flames inside me, but still, had that feeling of an immigrant that you can’t mess with cops.
Other than that, I got nothing but support and compassion from my neighbors or co-workers, especially after 9/11. There maybe prejudice in America, but everyone seems to be able to control such prejudice, except our friend Gonzales.
Crazy & random thoughts
8 years ago