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.


Blogger Organic-Muslimah said...

excellent article. And that goes back to what we were talking about on the phone....Muslims do the same thing. The generalize. We all do.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Aeryn said...

Asalaam Alaikum Sister,

All I have to say is AMEEN!

Thank you for a wonderful post.

May Allah bless you and your family,


7:27 PM  
Blogger UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

LOL you know what is funny? I don't know you and this is the first time I have seen you in the blogger sphere but we have the same name except that I have a hyphen and an extra'A'. And the kicker here is that I am a pastey(is that spelled right) white girl with blue eyes. Wierd....

7:30 PM  
Blogger UmmAbdurRahman said...

and both from the new orleans area. FREAKY HUH! looks like you must be that long lost twin that nurse was talking about.

i'm a blurker on your blog by the way :) i've just got into the blogging thing myself.

7:32 PM  
Blogger UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

Oh wait we have about 3 years difference in age but I am also from the south. Louisiana. I hope this doesn't get anymore eerie.....

7:33 PM  
Blogger UmmAbdurRahman said...

another funny thing is that me and Dictator princess have a lot in common as well. both being white gals from the south married to algerians is very rare.

7:38 PM  
Blogger UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

it just gets wierder and wierder.....Dictator Princess is one of my best friends. Oh and blurk all you want. I have not had much to say lately but maybe one of these days I will get back to it....

6:06 AM  
Blogger julianna said...

People identify you via your scarf. For me it's my hair. I remember the one day in school where I thought for halloween I would change it to black. And no one except my closet friend, recognized me. I was shocked. It was after that point when i realized how much we rely on hair as an identifier. that's part of why "you all look alike" is said to many people who come from a more homogenous area, like China or Somalia.. some of it is ignorance and some of it is hair.

I would have been tempted to say something. Bad. You will have a chance to set her straight later.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

I really like this post, esp. the part about humanity. And congrats about finishing your clinicals!

10:54 PM  
Blogger Safa said...

Wow...I had a comment ready...but reading all the coincedences!

I was going to say that her comment was just ignorant....try saying that to a black person or a chinese wouldn't go over well.....and has been said before. Alhamdulillah, you just walked away......

so the difference between u two officially is an extra A and a hyphen? I think I got confused at my blog.....!!!

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

assalamu alaikum

I enjoyed reading this entry-- that is until I came up on

(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).)

In all actuality, african americans or blacks do not all look alike. I do understand your fustration behind her statement but in her defense Muslimah's of same ethnic background can potentially be mistaken for one another. I, myself, have done this with two Sister's I did not know well. I kid you not, in the beginning of me getting to know them, I would always mistake one for the other. In order to not mistake them I would look at their Husband or the fact that one had a child and the other did not (and it did not help that they were best friends and would most likely always be together), before I would call them by name. Every Sister in our community would mistake them, it was not just me. But once we got to know them better and saw them without hijab, we knew from then on the difference in them. Without hijab, they totally looked different. Yes, I believe this nurse could have been more gentle with her wording, but Sister mistaken identity happens. To potentially ask her if she works in the cafeteria because all blacks look alike is racism.

and then you end with

(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.)

Firstly, I do not believe discrimination has yet been overcame. Discrimination is still a growing problem amongst all race of people. And amongst all race of people, blacks are always look down upon as less of people. And what is with this living the american dream. Your american dream may not be her or my american dream.

Ok I am going to end here. If I said anything wrong and harmful it is from me and I ask forgiviness. All good comes from Allah subhana wa ta'ala.


6:52 AM  
Blogger UmmAbdurRahman said...

In response to my "working in the cafeteria" statement: if you would go back and re-read what i wrote in no way am i saying that all blacks look alike. I am merely stating that she would not be happy if i made a statement similar to the one she made to me. remember, i was on my way to the cafeteria for lunch.

I am curious why her actions are just a case of mistaken identity and if I would have said that "cafeteria" statement to her it would be considered racism?

double standard? i think so

9:40 AM  
Blogger Organic-Muslimah said...

Well. To me, sometimes people of one ethnic background all look the same. It's hard sometimes to identify who is what. However, I must say..

when someone is black in hijab and another is white in hijab...i think we can all safely say, we DONT ALL LOOK THE SAME.

6:24 AM  

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