Sunday, November 8, 2009

"X" is for Xenophobia

I was on the treadmill Friday at the gym, watching the coverage of the Ft. Hood shootings on the overhead TV’s, when the woman walking beside me said something about ragheads.

I don’t know this woman well, but we’ve gone to the same gym for 7 years and I’ve always liked her.

My jaw dropped. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

“It’s not a mean thing,” she said. “It’s just a way of referring to a bunch of people from the same part of the world.”

I stared at her for a minute.

“It’s a way,” I said, “of taking diverse people from a single geographical region and painting them all with one paintbrush.”

“It’s not mean,” she said again.

“I’ve heard the same thing about ‘nigger’ and ‘faggot,’” I said. “And I don’t buy it.”

(Note: Those of you who know me only in Blogworld may be saying, "I can't believe you just said that." Those of you who know me in Liveworld won't bat an eye.)

Muslim physicians staff and fund our Thursday night adult walk-in clinic. Because of their kidduth khalq, (an Arabic phrase that translates, roughly, to “good deed”), we see over a thousand patients a year who would otherwise go without care. And those generous doctors and nurses are there to treat, not just Muslims, but anyone who shows up.

So please don’t ever say “ragheads” to me.

Even if Glen Beck says it's all right.


  1. Someone I know actually used the word "chinks" the other day. It made me freeze and I just stared at them in shock until they replied "oh, sorry - I'm not supposed to use that term." Duh!

  2. ESPECIALLY if Glen Beck says it's alright. Good for you for standing up. "I can't believe you just said that" is the perfect response.

  3. I'm glad you said something. A lot of people wouldn't have. Good for you.

    much love

  4. I wish I had been there to back you up (not to mention I could use a trip to the gym). A pat on the back to you for having the courage of your convictions.

  5. Yeah, that's pretty fucked up. People will surprise you in unpleasant ways sometimes.

  6. Good you said something!
    That kind of thinking is why we are still fighting each other and not living in a nicer world.
    Invite her to your clinic on a Thursday night to meet the Dr's. And have her explain her humanitarian volunteer work.

  7. I totally agree with you. I have become more outspoken when I hear this stuff. Yesterday a woman who attends more upitty poetry venues in Princeton walked out of ours in an inner city bookstore...what did she expect? The world is diverse, and I embrace all cultures...

  8. I've never actually heard that word... my response would've been "what does that mean??" (duly followed by righteous indignation, I expect)

    Then again, the only people I've ever heard use the word 'nigger' were a group of Afro-Carribean girls at my university, who were determined to reclaim it...

  9. I love that you called her out.

    Sometimes I'm so shocked by things people say, that I don't say anything. And then I spend the next week wishing I had.

  10. I am glad you called her out. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how you try and pretty it up.

  11. You might take away the words, Jeanne, but never the conditioned consciousness of a hateful person....
    ♪♫ ✿ *•.。.☆•*¨*•.¸¸❤¸¸.•*¨*•☆.。.•*✿ ♫♪

  12. She was being defensive, but you thought she was offensive.

    Racism is as natural as the rain making dirt happy.

    Love is the slap on the cheek that turns hatred into a smile.

    Disipline is like milk on cereal.

    You go girl,....don't take shit from those right wing drones!

  13. *groan* Good for you. It doesn't surprise me so much that this kind of bigotry exists, as it does that people are so bold and unapologetic about it. How did she know you weren't MARRIED to a "raghead"? I've heard folks I barely know make "nigger" and "faggot" comments, too, in my presence and it astounds me. They have no idea where I come from, or who my family or friends are, but because I'm "white" they assume I'll be okay with their bigotry? I just don't get it.

  14. My thought, even prior to reading Middle Aged Woman's comment, was an emphasis on ESPECIALLY if GB says it's alright.

    It slays me that people can continue to choose to be so ignorant and hateful and make excuses for it.

    Good for you for being one of the true good guys who stands up for what's right. My guess is that most people would have felt extremely uncomfortable and let it slide.

  15. Good for you!! It's very sad because I think there are a lot of people that still talk and think like this woman and often times they don't even know why!


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