Monday, January 19, 2009

Do You Face Stereotypes In The US?

Hahahha, I always laugh when people ask me this question. I was motivated to share these stories after reading another one from a guy about the two black men who met a white lady in the elevator. One of them asked his friend to hit the floor (the elevator floor button) and the woman laid on her stomach thinking they were asking her to hit the floor so they could rob her. They helped her gather her bucket of coins as she rose to the shame of her stereotypes.
I was coming from one party at about 2:30 A.M. Most of you know that even if African parties started at crepuscule they will go till dawn. So I am driving and I saw a car with double trafficators. I began looking closely if I could see if the person needs help. Usually I help those I know I can stand them physically if the devil took over them and thy wanted my car. So I looked at this girl standing by the side of her car waving. I thought she was a decoy for some thieves so I passed but my conscience began judging me so I came back to pick her up. Stepping out of my car she was walking slowly to her car and I told her not to be afraid. I asked her to use my cell phone and call her home and tell them that I wanted to give her a ride. She told me that she had called them but no one was answering. So I said just call and leave a message that if anything happens to you then they should hold this guy.
I took her home and the first question that came out of her mother’s mouth was where did you pick him up? I could hear her whisper the question with much surprise and disappointment. The daughter told her that her car broke down and I was just giving her a ride. Now I am curious trying to see what her mother was made up off. I pretended like I did not know how to use the home phone. They asked me how long I have been here. I said I just moved her. Indeed I was just moving to that city though not new to the US. So I asked for the phone to make a call to my house. I held the phone upside down as she laughed and told her daughter in little whispers he does not even know how to use the phone. Then later I told them I was leaving.
As she walked me to the road she asked me what I did in life. I told her that I was a teacher here and actually have been living here for about 6 years. Then she asked how then did I know not how to use the home phone. I said I was just teasing your parents since I heard her question you where you picked me up. She felt so bad and told me “actually my parents are not bad people. I don’t know why she said what she said”. Indeed she is not bad; she merely has stereotypes. Perhaps she said to herself: “this guy with another accent should be another bushman we watch over CNN and Fox News”.
The second was when I was going to do my taxes. I saw a car in the turning late with double blinkers. I was hurrying for my appointment time and so did not stop. But when I was coming back I stopped and parked my car by the side of the road. Walked to the car and saw two elderly ladies sitting in the car. I tried for them to open their car but I guess seeing a black man they thought I was coming to rob them in broad day light. So they did not open. I hit the door again and requested with gestures they put down the glass. They did, then I told them that I was going to do my taxes and I saw them sitting in the car. I have gone, done my taxes and they are still there. Can I help them? One of them said actually she had called her daughter but she is at work. I said I will help them. They said their battery was dead. I went and bought a cable, came and jumpstarted them. The car started but died almost half a mile ahead. So I told them I will start it then drive behind them. I did that until they reached their home. I did not step out of my car so that their conscience may judge them for their poor stereotype. Did you know this was a white area? Yet everyone passed them by without giving a thought.
A third was an African American church I wanted to work with. The pastor told me he has made up his mind never to deal with Africans because they are dishonest. I asked him if he had ever had a tooth ache. He said yes, then I said did you extract all your teeth? He said no. Then I said so why not. He said because not all were bad. Then I said then not all Africans are bad and I left.
Just of recent I saw a young lady in my school. I greeted her and she did not seem to reply. I left her alone. I was on duty monitoring the hall way. So I kept seeing her looking bewildered and troubled. She went round and came back to my spot. So I asked her if she needed help but she told me no. She came back about three times and all three times I asked her if she needed help. Then the fourth time I saw her and said you look lost. She agreed and said she was looking for room 405. I said listen; I asked you this several times if you needed help but you did not want to talk to me. Actually she was a new teacher coming to the school. So I directed her. The next time I saw her she was looking for the media center. But this time she walked to me and asked without hesitation.
Sometimes I go to a church and do not even give the slightest idea I have read the Bible. I went to this church and they were teaching me how to pray. The teacher kept making me to repeat one useless prayer that only God knows why. Hahahahaha!
Another one was in a church. The pastor would teach and would ask everyone on my pew questions except me. He will be asking people questions and when he reaches me he will skip. I figured out he felt like this guy should be very ignorant so I don’t want to embarrass him. Then they had Bible studies and got stuck on a verse. People were giving their own ideas and the pastor kept saying that was not it. The "specialists" and leaders tried but could not satisfy him. Then he said is there anyone in this hall who thinks something different. I put my hand up and unraveled the oracles of the Lord taking the message in the Old Testament and linking it to the New Testament. Then he turned and asked me: why did you let us do all of this while you sat there. As from next week please come and teach us.
One time I was to take a gifted course. The teacher rejected me from taking the class because English is not my first language. So she told me in front of the other colleagues that I don’t think you should take this class because English is not your first language. I smiled and I insisted that I wanted to take the class. I did nto realize it until another white female colleague brought that to my attention; apologizing that it was rude for her to say what she said to me. For me it was merely a stereotype and I had to prove her wrong. When I wrote my article she asked me if I copied it from somewhere. I told her to research and if she found it anywhere she should reject the paper and I will redo it. Useless to say she did not find anything.
The worst one is the one where a lady asked me how many wives I had. I said I had 10. She asked: "where are the wives"? I said they are here with me. Then she said "well don‘t allow anyone to know because because if they know they gonna lock your ass up. We don’t play that shit here"! Then I told her I was just intending to ask her to be my wife number Eleven. She screamed and cursed me: “mother f..ker are you dam out of your mind”? I said no, you will make perfect Number Eleven and if you keep wasting time you will be Number Twelve. She got up and left. Hahahaha. Who ever told them that all Africans are polygamists is only God who knows.
Then one was where I was working somewhere. They had to teach some three people how to use and temporary repair the “complex” copier. We were four people sitting in the lunchroom and they selected the other three. Then they told our Head of Department (one of those selected) that she tells the rest of her staff that anyone who has not taken lessons to operate this machine should not do so. They should only copy and leave the machine alone. Pointless to say I sat there and watched them do their foolishness as I looked carefully on everything they were doing. I went back home read on how the machine operates and everything and sat quiet. Needless to tell you that I became the main repair man that at times before the real repairers from the company come I tell them what part is bad. The guy had just imagined that this guy from Africa would mess up this thing if we let him touch it. Hahahaha
During my last visit to Richardson Texas to attend Daniel’s graduation I was dressed in my Arican attire. This guy I guess thinks that everybody who dresses like that is a Muslim. So he greeted me in Arabic: “a- salam alaikum” (peace be unto you) and I responded “malekum salam” (And also with you). He was so excited but I was laughing at his stereotype. It seems he does not know that most Africans dress like Muslims but are not Muslims. The dressing with gowns is not only for Muslims.
It is still very strange to me that in the 21st century some people are still judging others not by virtue of their character but by virtue of their skin color and stereotypes. If you had a country of only white or black people there will still be crime because crime is in the nature of man and not his or her skin color.
Until then, do unto others what you want them do unto you.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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