Thu, Jan 9, 2020
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Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, There's an 8 yr old Asian, smarter than You... or isn't that how the poem goes? Wallflower Journal welcomes you to 2020, a new decade representing new possibilities, a decade I would be a dad, I am still processing how that would work. I think it is no longer news that people relate with others based on the locus of difference. By this I mean people treat you based on how different you are from themselves. The level of respect, fear, love you receive depends on how they perceive you. You could be a Norse royalty and travel to Ghana, and no one would cater to your needs, not because you stopped being royalty, but because you are not perceived as one.
This piece has been separated into two parts, this one is about how I treat others somewhat differently while the next is on how people treated me. we would run through the first this time because of length of these connecting stories…
So it’s the 6th of January 2020, 7 days shy of Spring semester kickoff and the breakouts on my face have one unified mantra, “GET OUT”. Detty December had done me well, my brother’s wedding getaway was amazing and I’m sure I won’t have so much fun anytime soon. So bags strapped, I head to my not so “greener pastures” in the US. My travel time was about 41hrs with uncomfortable wait times in between. I had a major stop over in Doha, Qatar which birthed this piece. In my lifetime, I’ve seen so many variants of Asians and I’ve grown to love and admire them. The earliest memories I have of Asians date back to Jackie Chan and Jet Li, these were heroes who would sacrifice their own comfort for the benefit of those they loved and even sometimes people who did not deserve it. Growing up, I began to profile Asians as heroes and till date I still feel they can all lowkey fight if triggered so i steer clear. If my plane was about to crash, the more Asians there are on board, the higher my chances of walking out, lol! The flight time from Lagos to Doha was about 8 hours 30 minutes and the airplane was packed with more Asians than I had ever seen outside movies, so guess what I did? I slept all through…I mean, I couldn’t be safer! Doha’s airport is really beautiful but I did not fancy the idea of sitting on airport seats during my 9 hrs layover neither did I particularly enjoy laying my head on my hand luggage to catch a good nap, but we don’t always get what we want in life. I was famished after a while and logged into the airport WiFi (Don’t get me started with that safety bant !)
As I was getting ready to sleep, an Indian man sat beside me, I couldn’t be bothered, my sleep was of much more importance to me at this point, besides, he looked like the uncle characters from Zee-World. He was dark, sturdy, about 6 ft, had the Bindi on his forehead and a piercing or two. He asked if I could help him connect his phone to the WiFi and almost instinctively, the profiling began, the information that was available to screen this gentle giant was the decades of Bollywood and a couple of my colleagues in graduate school I was used to. “Indians are all nice and just want to dance their way out of situations”, I said to myself and seeing he couldn’t dance this one out, I decided to help him. In a minute I got him hooked on the drug the world runs on and he said his many thanks and began surfing… Hours later I would pass by and see the gentle giant asleep on the same airport seats and smile to myself, but now it’s time to use the restroom!!
In the past week or two, you would have seen memes of the world war 3, especially if you are such a twitter bird. Let’s just say stuff went down between Iran and the US and trust humans to make a joke out of it all. As I walked out the rest room, I went sightseeing and took a couple pictures before seeking out a new sitting spot. Not so long after i settled in my zone, like an almighty “Tech magnet”, I attract another man, this time, a completely different kind of man…
Love is natural, but Hate, you see, is in fact an aberration, a corruption of the order of creation. People were created to co-habit genuinely with the air of love, but a string of
have created a separate environment and hence orientation. The news media preaching selective truths and outright false doctrines. All these serving to demonize a people and their culture, which inevitably leads to the divide and conquer of the masses. The powers that be have turned the ordinary people against one another and conditioned the minds of the next generation to do the same. I, just like you, am a victim of this conditioning and daily I strive to break free, for nothing beats the beauty of absolute truth and this is why I had to interject this before moving on.
This man stood at 5,9” tall and grew a beard which was now in fact gray, he was balding and had a huge bag on his back. I was not surprised he requested the same thing as the gentle giant, what surprised me was how I began to act towards him the moment i profiled him. He was definitely middle eastern or Asian, but not Japanese-Chinese kind of Asian. I over analyzed my every impulse to my greatest shame. “I, an international student studying in the US in contact with a possible Iranian (which, again, is not a bad thing at all..but the world is messed up)”. I became hesitant and for some odd 20 seconds, I pretended not to speak fluent English in a bid to frustrate the man, but as I learnt that day…some men have the will of the gods, unbending to say the least. This intelligent man did something off-book, he racially reverse profiled me and totally reduced the complexity of his sentence composition as if, speaking to a toddler, it was magical and intense and I knew he was not going to budge. I finally give in against my father’s better-paranoid judgement, get this man hooked up, once again fingerprints splattered all over the phone and said a prayer in my heart.
You see, Gabrielle Union said “You can love what you see in the mirror, but you can’t self-esteem your way out of the way the world treats you”. That right there holds true, because almost everyone love themselves, their race, skin color and gender, but the world holds a perception about who you are and they’ll treat you based on that perception. This is why the perception of reality is greater than reality. It is therefore pertinent to shine your light, so people recognize your light as light and not darkness. At first, you might think you don’t give a spoon whether people treat you well or not, but after some time you would. I have never seen a movie acted by people from Dubai, in fact, I don’t know if they have like a Dubai Hollywood, but what I do know is, Dubai has placed itself to the world as a tourist destination and the world has bought that story. The media is the singular most powerful shaping tool, and what you say about yourself is what the majority believe and in the end, is what counts.
In conclusion, racial profiling is a coping mechanism humans employ to evaluate and stay alive in a diverse world, It is not negative in itself, neither is it positive, however, it acts on pieces of information, and those could be absolute garbage and false. Therefore, seek to provide the right information about yourself as truth and it would drown the worst people think of you.
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