I’m usually embarrassed to talk about this subject because I know a lot of people have it worse. The reason I decided to bring it up today is because I’ve noticed its something I have to deal with almost every week. If you don’t know me, I’m of East Indian decent but I was born & raised in Grenada. I’ve been called Syrian, Middle Eastern, Muslim – basically anyone from that region of the world. That’s not the bad part.
Something was brought to my attention by someone I’m acquainted with. I see him frequently & we always say hello. He saw me & a good friend of mine somewhere at a social event, said hello & proceeded to narrate a scene in which he recalls (when I was younger & in high school some 20 years ago) that I was minding my business crossing the street when someone in a car yelled out that he didn’t understand why my people wouldn’t get out of their country. My acquaintance reminded me that I said bravely to the man that I was born in Grenada & had every right to be here. My acquaintance said he would never forget that exchange. I was surprised that he remembered that scenario & he chuckled & so did I. I didn’t remember it myself. My friend who was sitting next to me said “oh my God – you always have to defend yourself about belonging here”. It was funny.
I’ve had my fair share of squabbles with people in the past about my right to belong on Grenadian soil. For me belonging is not just a birth right, citizenship or a passport, but acceptance. I think because of the nature of my job (managing a retail store in St. George’s) I get accosted with a lot of discrimination. By no means am I saying that everyone is the same. I meet lovely people everyday. Some nonchalant, some unsure as to whether I’d speak to them (I’ve been told I look snobbish many times – apparently) & some people filled with manners & exchange daily pleasantries. I think 95% of people I encounter on a daily basis, whether at work or on the street are indifferent as to where I came from & treat me as one of them. The few however, who feel the need to put me down because of the assumption that I came from somewhere else cuts me deep. I’ve been told – “go back where yuh come out” more times then I’d like to recall. I’ve also been in situations where I am looked down on as nothing & spoken to in a disgusting way & when I respond to the person they act appalled & think I should not speak back to them. Imagine that! I’m so rude right? I’ve also been the person who gets two customers talking to each other about me, in front of me & when I reply, they think I shouldn’t because they weren’t speaking to me & the talk escalates into obscenities. It can get pretty nasty & lately I say absolutely nothing at all. It’s not worth it. I can’t imagine looking at someone who looks different from me and just abuse them with no logical reason. It’s beyond me!
We are living in a time where we should be celebrating & accepting our differences but some people are not able to do so for whatever personal reason. Everyone has a story, a reason, some pain that they deal with & then lash out at someone else. It’s unfair but it’s important that we remember that when we spew hate & ugliness it only hardens & chars our own hearts.
Love & Light x