With the close of 2017 approaching within weeks, I’m sat here in a hotel in Bucharest with my usual coffee and water, people watching, reflecting on not only what I experienced this evening but identifying a worrying trend over the past 18 months or so.
As you may have noticed, I have brown skin, muslim, British born Asian and actually a pretty handsome dude. Yet I’m starting to hate myself. Why? You may be asking yourself (that is if my single readership actually gives a shit). I’ll tell you, whoever you may be. I’m becoming the very type of person I despise; judgemental, and dare I say it, prejudiced.
Unless you’re unbelievably thick and oblivious to what has been happening in the world these past few years, but us brown skinned guys and gals, especially muslims (and unfortunately those mistook for being Muslim – he giggles), haven’t exactly been in the most positive light of late. We have been portrayed as being a many number of things, too many to list. However when you strip away the bullshit, we are apparently terrorists, rude, dirty, backwards, dangerous and want to kill all white people.
Facing prejudice and racism is nothing new for me for sure. Growing up being the only brown skinned guy in school and town, I had my fair share of comments, fights, meetings in the headmasters office, rejections from white girls (yes sometimes we do fancy a bit of pasty white), moved away not to spoil the image of prestige etc. Back then though it was about one thing. No.. not the fact that I was hairier than a gorilla from the age of 8, but pure and simply, different skin colour. Now though, it’s a double whammy since 9/11, brown and Muslim. Shit.
Yes it’s fucked up that I get “randomly” chosen at the airport, yes it’s fucked up I get asked why my name is my name, yes it’s fucked up I get stopped to get asked random security questions, yes its fucked I get weird looks, yes its fucked I get asked where I’m originally from when they get surprised with the response of Birmingham. (Although not having a brummy accent should be more weird than anything else put together). And YES I made peace with this, it’s a part of our life, just smile, deal with it, and go about your business.
Yet it is now at this juncture, going about daily business, where things have fallen apart. After any incident now, reading comments on social media, hearing the public on talk shows, news, papers, and witnessing such hate, I mean real passionate hate, from seemingly normal folks has now impacted “daily going about business” life. Now I am constantly thinking when someone looks at me weird, or doesn’t smile, crosses the road to get away, or anything else meaningless; “shit, this person hates me, fears me”, etc. I have become judgemental. Without even speaking to said person or more importantly being spoken to, I have already negative thoughts it my head.
And I hate myself for it. I am judging someone being possibly prejudiced by being prejudiced myself. WTF!
I pride myself on being a person who always shows respect first, and I guess one of the reasons I’m having such hard time dealing with this, is that I’m not getting the chance to even speak let alone show my respect and love.
At the start of this post I mentioned an experience before I’m sat here writing this. Classic example of where my head is at right now. So I’m wandering around old town, been looking forward to relaxing all week. After a lot of strolling, seeing some beautiful buildings, I notice two shisha bars/ clubs kind of places. Cool! Perfect place for me to relax for an hour or so. I walk in, pretty empty, ask for shisha. I get told no, no room. I smile confusingly, look behind me clearly seeing shisha pipes all around and quite clearly empty. Usually I would enquire more to what that exactly meant, but just from the look I could tell there was no point. Earlier in the week even, walked into another shisha place (all run by Romanians by the way as a small but important caveat), no smile, no hello, told to sit separately, forgot my tea that I ordered, just dropped my shisha not even placing the coals or getting it ready for me. But for everyone else, sure, might as well held their cock too! Was thinking to myself, seriously, looking at me weird … a middle eastern handsome guy, in a shisha place .. at me.. while playing fucking Indian Bollywood music to put icing on the cake. You bring our stuff, you play our music, you eat our food, but when we want to join you… nooooo.. heaven forbid that crazy thought.
I also resigned to the fact that the men got jealous knowing that Romanian women love us.. and believe me.. I know that for a fact! Well, helped me deal with it a little, told you, it’s great living in my head!
For sure these are not isolated incidents and just recent examples being fresh in my head. And there is now way I am writing anecdotes on those ever increasing scenarios in my life.
Or and this is the point I’m trying to make (if you’re still wondering) I could have misunderstood everything, maybe it wasn’t time for me to have shisha, or fully booked, or just shit service, just an unfriendly person, just the way that person looks, just someone who doesn’t smile, whatever… Nothing to do with prejudice. Who knows.
Ultimately though, fear, unknown, misunderstandings, all come into play. And the fact that’s it come into play with myself personally, is now a massive problem. However I will not give up, I need to deal with this myself, I have to keep my morale up. I simply cannot and will not let this happen to me, even if I’m the recipient, you can be damn sure I will not reciprocate in the same manner. No fucking way. We cannot stop showing love and respect, no matter what adversities we face, we have to keep on loving, we have to keep on respecting, we have to keep talking, we have to keep smiling, we have to keep setting an example for the generation below us, we have to push away those feelings of fear and hate, and project a warmth that we ALL need. Especially right now. More than ever. For now though, seasons greetings! Have an awesome Christmas with your beloved ones! Peace and Love.