I was raised in a community of positive racists.
A place where Asians are mathematical super geniuses and African men are well endowed.
I don’t believe all racism is derived from hate, I simply don’t.
I’m sorry, but I refuse to be called a bigot for believing Black men have huge penises.
So imagine my disappointment when hate racism reared its hideous head.
There were two separate accounts, in the city of Edmonton, when my intoxicated state begged for me to dial the reliable local taxi service.
The first night, I somehow found the back seat of my chariot and pasted plastered little me to the seat. The driver was on the phone speaking in Arabic, when – obnoxious me drawled, “You’re from the Arab?”
“Yes,” he answered cautiously, “I’m from Lebanon.”
He slowly hung up and eyed me from his rear-view mirror.
And later I found out why.
He took my friendliness as an allegiance to his cause. In a dynamic and endless monologue he began his anti-semitic hate speech.
“The Jews own the world, they are destroying everything. Fuck the Jews. You know this city is run by Jews that pretend to be good people. But I know the truth. They are robbing the city.”
I rapidly sobered up. Wide eyed and awkwardly, I stared out the window.
Cab drivers are only allowed to use the work “fuck” in certain circumstances i.e. car cuts them off or cab driver realizes he just ran over a pedestrian/bunny/pet/deer.
Actually switch the order of those two – life obviously trumps douche bag drivers.
But I digress.
He asked me where I was from.
By then I realized it was too late to pretend to be from a neutral nation like Switzerland.
Nor could I pass off that I didn’t speak English.
I was screwed.
“Egypt,” I replied calmly.
“Ahh Egypt – your revolution saved the world. The Muslim Brotherhood are going to fix Egypt.”
I rolled my eyes. I would not engage with this monster.
What did he know about a fixed Egypt? A religiously redeemed Egypt?
He obviously didn’t see that Egypt was starving.
But I would not engage.
“You know all the Arabs come here because all they want to do is get drunk and fuck.” He obviously wasn’t going to stop, and I couldn’t take it anymore.
“You can get drunk and fuck anywhere in the world, you know.”
“You miss the point – they come here because it’s easy.”
Sighing loudly, the driver could tell he was losing me. But instead of giving him, emphatically carried on with more aggression.
He went on to discuss his conspiracy theories, his voice raising with inflections of genuine passion.
He truly believed everything coming out his mouth. Every word was passed on to him, and he was preaching with purpose.
He had so much hate in him. He hated the Jews, White people, and even those who practised different forms of the same religion he believed in.
He was spewing mass racism with no unspecified target – all the while, I couldn’t help but wonder – why was he here?
I finally got home, trying to rinse the bad taste he left in my mouth.
I thought by leaving the Middle East – I would in turn also be letting go of the intense hate shared by a very vocal few.
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered I was wrong.
A few days later, I found myself in a similar situation. Also taking a cab back home – I asked the same question again – a bit more articulately this time.
“Where are you from?”
Here was this man from Yemen who came to Canada to fulfill his personal dream. To live the lavish life minimum wage could afford him – a rotisserie chicken from Wal-Mart and a tiny old TV he could watch re-runs of America’s Home Videos on.
He would leech wi-fi from various locations in the city for those precious Skype calls he could have with his family back home.
That was all he wanted.
Weekends were the worst for him – piled in his taxi, a slew of white supremacists would commence their ritual.
“Go the fuck back to your country.” Or “do you make bombs?” “Do you know Bin Laden?”
Or surprisingly, “Do you buy bombs at Home Depot?”
Who has ever bought a bomb from the Home Depot? I mean really.
He didn’t preach nor did he impose his personal beliefs on anyone.
He was just a taxi driver – and he didn’t deserve this.
Anyone could see that he was hurt by the constant barrage of hate.
“How often does this happen to you?” I asked.
Every weekend someone gets into his car and likens him to a terrorist.
It doesn’t just end with these two – several incidents happen that go unnoticed. Office segregation, slurs on the streets, and worst of all – violence.
Thankfully however – not often does it happen here.
Not once has anyone in the city of Edmonton ever shown me an ounce of disrespect. I have never been the victim of racism – but I don’t need to be to see its effects.
There are places in the world where this happens…often.
We are not all uniform cookie cut outs of the same – we are different, dare I say unique.
So own it,
and love it,
and embrace difference.
Sweet Dreams World.