By OSAMA ALBAYTI
October 16, 2017
“I was told by one of the workers that I should go back to Saudi Arabia where they could be more helpful to me.”
I don’t think I have been at a position of disadvantage either career- or school-wise due to my religion. However, the discrimination that I did face was often surprisingly subtle.
For example, when I arrived for my first day for an internship in one of the Southern states, I was told by a worker that I should go back to Saudi Arabia where they could be more helpful to me.
The same guy continued to taunt me on my first day until the manager noticed the issue and warned him.
Part of me was a little happy for seeing America outside the college bubble that most international students live in.
On another day at the same company, we were taken to visit another place, and lunch was provided for us.
The problem was no vegetarian or pork-free option was given. I felt disrespected by the company since they had a number of Arab workers and they should’ve known better. We got an apology, and everything went fine afterwards.
On Quora, two years ago, I participated in a discussion concerning the Syrian refugees in Europe. I was of the view that all countries involved in creating the crisis should take responsibility for the refugees.
I got a message telling me to stay away from Europe and some other unwelcoming language.
Obviously, the guy who sent me the message thinks all Muslims are trying to get to Europe, including me, a Saudi Arabian person. I reported the guy to Quora, but I don’t believe they did anything.
These three are the more easily recognized cases of religious discrimination/insensitivity, but there are many more subtle cases in which I know I am being avoided or talked to differently due to my perceived religion.
Sometimes I am treated this way because the other person is just being extra careful. Sometimes they just don’t want to interact with me.
Probably the most frustrating case of discrimination was one involving a transgender friend.
I met this friend before she underwent hormone treatment. One day I realized she was avoiding me. I tried to contact her. She told me to stop calling her by the name I knew, suggesting a male-sounding name instead.
I asked the girl about it and about why she avoided me recently. She explained that she was undergoing treatment, but didn’t want me to know.
She preferred to cut me out of her life because she thought a Muslim would be enraged by hearing such things.
While I sympathize with her concerns, I was disappointed.
This case made me lose faith in the idea of a color-blind world, which I actually used to believe in. This is stereotyping came from a place where it was least expected.
While racism and discrimination may seem to be something that happens to only people of color for their color and if at all, in a very extreme way, subtle ways of discluding certain people from certain stories is also discriminatory.