Saturday, December 09, 2006

Y'all all look alike!

Friday was my final day of my clinical internship and as they say "go out with a bang!"

Okay, so I'm the young Muslim lady walking around the hospital with a long navy blue skirt, navy scrub top, srub jacket, and matching navy blue hijab. There aren't many of me....or should I say I am the only one dressed this way.

The man in the supply room once asked, "what's up with the wrap?" All the pathology secretaries asked my supervisor, "What's up with your student?" You see the problem is not that I am muslim, but that I am a pasty white Muslim girl with blue eyes. I've caught many people off guard these three months. Yes, I have put on an iso gown, safety goggles, and gloves just like the rest of them. Yes, I have carried that severed leg to the Pathologist and handed her a saw to cut right into it. Was it my determination or work ethic that got their attention? NO, it was that scarf on my head and my unwillingness to wear pants.

I actually loved all of the interaction I had with my non-Muslim co-workers. I was given the opportunity to explain hijab, the beauty of fasting, and holiday traditions for 'eid. I shared some of my yummy Crescent cookies after 'Eid and got to sample tons of cookies for Halloween and Christmas. It was an eye opening experience for all of us. We learned that despite all of our differences we have one common thread: HUMANITY. We are all humans. In life, we have many of the same goals: to get married, have a family, a car, a house, send our children to a good school, and basically just live a content life.

When you see people as people you tend to judge them less. Yesterday, I wasn't seen as a person. I was on my way to lunch in the cafeteria. As I walk passed the vending machines I hear, "Hey! You!" A woman whom I will assume was a nurse(obvious because of the bright colored character print matching scrubs and stethoscope around her neck) grabbed my arm and asked, "Did you have your baby on the third floor?" A bit perplexed I replied, "No, I work in the pathology department on the second floor." What came out of this woman's mouth has to be the most ignorant thing heard my entire training period. She said, "Oh, well Ya'll all look alike!" I half smiled at her, turned around and continued on the the cafeteria.

The problem I have with this is that NO we don't all look alike. Just because I have a scarf on my head doesn't mean that everyone else in a scarf is my long lost twin. Do you think she would have been happy if I asked her if she worked in the cafeteria because all of you look alike(she was African-American).

You see many people can say my best friend is black or my best friend is Muslim, but this is really how it was for me growing up. We had the best neighbors. They didn't care about acting black or acting white...whatever that means anyway. They were 100% completely true to themselves. Our families were and still are the best of friends. We shared every holiday and big event in our life. We had thanksgiving and Christmas dinner together. We had a fish fry every Friday and boiled seafood or barbecued every single weekend. They were our family and we were theirs. Our families stood together in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Firemen with automatic weapons and MRE's, my family, their family, and many more families in our neighborhood stuck together. The neighborhood was filled with the sweet smell of barbecue and crab boil. Every house that wasn't evacuated got out their propane tanks, barbecues, and turkey fryers. They began cooking every bit of food in the fridge before it went bad. It wasn't about color, just people helping people. I learned that good people exist in every race or ethnicity and if you live your life by color barriers you will miss out on a lot of good things.

I hope that nurse can realize the discrimination she has overcome in her life to get an education and a good paying job to truly live the American dream. The cycle of discrimination, generalization, and racism must be broken.