Posted by: nazli | August 17, 2006

wednesday wanderings … what not to do if you are brown…

(or have an middle eastern name) … don’t …

1. question the clerk – on Tuesday I went to post a flash drive to the UK but I was not allowed to, in case it had “sensitive” material. People in front of me were sending sealed boxes but I was stopped on my tracks. The postal clerk said, “how do we know you are not sending dangerous documents in this thing?” I told him him to check for the content of the disk (which was all in English) and also asked to see the documentation of items that can be shipped. He said to me, “don’t you people know we are on terror alert? We have to protect our citizens.”
Imagine the headline if I had lost my temper: “foiled: woman with degree in chemical engineering caught in major computer terrorism US-UK ring”

2. carry or buy more than one cell phone – oops I guess I have to cut down on efficieny between my Palm Treo for business and the Sony Ericsson camera phone for pleasure

3. photograph bridges, buildings, beaches, buses, basics … best not to take photographs of anything because anything could be a terror target …

4. travel …or go on vacation ... in fact don’t leave home if you are brown

5. have any documents in Arabic – they look “dangerous”

6. mention peaceful words like ‘insh’allah’ or ‘salaam walaaikum’ – they sound “dangerous”

7. air your opinions about the Arab-Israeli war, as humanitarian and unbiased as they may be

8. ask for a glass of water or any liquid on a plane – what? you are flying? no – remember – stay at home

9. lighten your hair in an attempt to blend in – you still look brown, dear – but do try a British accent, it distracts people from the browness

10. sun tan in the hopes of becoming darker – that opens up another barrage of problems

11. think your rich personal cultures of thousands of years matter – what culture? you are brown and thus a possible terrorist and that’s that

12. stand around in groups talking in non-English – you may make others uncomfortable (because hindi/ bengali/ arabic/ urdu are all the same and “dangerous”)

13. get degrees in chemical engineering or computer science (oh, why did I not pursue my childhood dream of becoming a superstar?)

14. wear an hermes scarf of a particular print and be mistaken for you know who

15. wear long coats – even in winter – freeze rather than be mistaken for a you know what

16. change your currently ‘brown” surname of Ahamed/Ali/ Azim etc. to Brown (come on now, that’s just silly ;-))

17. recite the Koran on the NYC subways – look, just because that guy in white recites the Bible and damns you to hell while you are trying to catch your morning nap on the train, does not mean you too will receive the same indifferent sleepy reaction from the passengers on reciting Sura Al-Fatiha

(18-20 contributed by Maliha)
18. Dare to have an opinion contrary to the official version of Truth from the FOX NEWS table

19. Express your opinion in a public place; like a rally: (the last time we went people yelled “if you don’t like it here: GO HOME!”; we ARE at home idiots; and protesting/dissent is as American as you can get.)

20. Walk around in a Hijab/Scarf for a woman/ bearded for a man (worse still is being a couple) and daring to display your Muslim-ness in public.

these apply heavily to male browns – while female browns can sometimes counteract the impact of being brown by being pretty, smiling and appearing docile and simple

Movie Recommendation: An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore presents scientific research articulately using effective graphics. I am inspired to do my part (even as inconveniently brown as I am)

Music Recommendation:
My Universe“: Minerve – the music takes me on – in my car, office, ipod, laptop, my universe
Ae Mere Humsafar“: Alka Yagnik & Udit Narayan – popular Indian anthem of some of the brown people from the movie “Qayamat se Qayamat Tak”, takes my breath away (English Translation)

Best Regards,
Nazli (Brownyn for the day)

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