Friday, May 7, 2010

America, F*** Yeah!

On Saturday, May 1st, 2010, Faisal Shahzad allegedly left a SUV packed with propane gas tanks, firecrackers, and fertilizer in Times Square with the intent to blow things up. Fortunately, the vehicle was spotted smoking and authorities were able to dismantle the explosives just in time.

When I first heard the suspect's name was Faisal Shahzad, I thought, "Shit, that name sounds Pakistani." When his background was revealed over the past week, I thought, "Fuck."

It appears Faisal Shahzad is not only Pakistani, but he's also an American citizen. He's married, he worked in finance and has ties to the city of Karachi, Pakistan. That's... me (and a shit ton of other people I know). Apparently, I wasn't the only one who made this connection:
"Yo Mista, that terrorist look just like you. Ain't you say you was from Pakistan too? AND you was in finance, right? So did you know him or something?"
Yeah, all Pakistanis know each other and look alike. Especially those who were formerly in finance. We hang out at the bar Wednesday nights inside the Mosque...
"Yooo, I saw this nigga with a beard on the A train and I got mad scared yo. Nigga had a backpack and shit too, haha."
Crap. For a moment, I forgot I was a high school teacher. I knew this event was going to cause ignorant people to say the most ridiculous shit, but now I'm in a position where I actually have to correct the brainwashing caused by the headline-happy media (see exhibits A, B and C).

To be brutally honest, I did not expect to hear the kinds of things I've been hearing in my school. Generally speaking, my school caters to a low-income community (even though it's a commuter school) and I wrongly assumed that these kids would somehow know better. I thought since the majority of students at my school are Black or Hispanic, they would be able to see through the racial profiling. I thought they thought I was on their side.

I was a fool. Agent K said it best in Men in Black:
"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals..."
I guess every group has to go through being on America's hit list. And once your people go through the hazing, you then receive the esteemed privilege to join in with the rest of the gang to hate on the next group. The fact that you're a minority will never be forgotten, but hey, now you're part of the team.

I just I hope this fraternity looks good on my résumé.


Naqiya said...

"allegedly" doesnt apply when you have already confessed.

but yes, VERY disturbing. I had a similar incident at work today with the jamaican lady who is part of the cleaning crew and i smile and say hello to once in a while. i was in the ladies room and out of no where she comes up to me and starts getting really angry about "that pakistani man who ruined it for all of us immigrants" like somehow it was my fault. i mean, i'm pretty angry too!

anyway. just remember that these are kids you are dealing with. if adults can be ignorant, it makes sense for kids to be the same. gross generalizations all, but still.

Anonymous said...

Be patient with 'em Mista! They know not what they do or say. They've been brainwashed just like so many other Americans. Not that you want to play the "representative of my race" role, but you can definitely educate them about the racial profiling you've experienced. Then the next time they hear somebody say something ignorant about people from the Middle East, they can think "Hey, my math teacher was of Pakistani descent and he was cool" and then they'll begin to question the media-driven misconceptions that abound on TV.

NB said...

At least in London, fellow first generation immigrants tend to sympathize a fair amount with each other. Theres a sense of being in the same boat. Other established (2nd and 3rd Gen) minorities, not so much. The have their own imported prejudices which mingle in with whatever prejudice they find here.

As an aside, dude Pakistanis overseas in a City DO tend to know each other a hell of a lot. So while we obviously don't know the guy, were probably not as far removed as we'd like to think.

As in, the degree of separation between overseas Pakistanis is substantially less than the degree of separation between overseas Indians. It is largely only our elite that manage to leave the country in the first place and they're all quite interconnected, whereas for other immigrants (including to a lesser degree Indians), its a broader, less connected middle class chunk which makes it across.

Naqiya said...

NB, good points, but i disagree with your last one there about pakistanis in cities. At least in the US it does not entirely hold true. the vast majority of pakistanis in a place like new york (or NJ or CT, where this guy was from) are not elite, but very much part of the urban working class. this could be because many working class people find a greater potential for jobs and career development here than back home (not so true anymore for Indians), vs. the elite who come for college, work for a few years and then mostly leave. so while some degree of interconnectivity may exist, it has little to do with class.

either way though, we are talking about a few hundred thousand pakistanis in the tri-state area alone. saying "dont you all know each other" would be like saying all mexicans here should know each other because there arent that many in ny and they all live together anyway - so overall, still a stupid remark