my cute grandma isn't a terrorist - on being arab when you don't look it, pt.1 / by Dahlia Dandashi

at 21, i felt venom fall from the sky.

it smelled like gasoline-- heavy and burning. 

and i sat in the rain, just waiting to catch fire.

 

now, they call my grandmother a terrorist,

when the real terror lies on the edge of her bed linens,

dressed in military uniform,

smiling with gunpowder in their teeth.

they wet themselves like little boys,

excited at the thought of destroying their homeland. 

i am not them, and they are nothing like me. 

 

at 21, i died, and i am not sure when i will live again.

maybe it will be when i see the park where i scratched my name on a wall, 

or when i get to sit on the curb and munch on sticky ice cream with my cousins.

 

maybe i will only live again

when i am buried under my syrian soil

or once again growing into in my lebanese roots.

those will be the moments i will live again.

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being a green eyed, semi-blonde white girl living in the U.S., most people make conjectures that i'm an all american gal. though i was born in the U.S. (and yeah i love it), if you know me, you know my family is composed of crazy arabs that yell on the phone when there's no emergency. some people get upset when others guess their ethnicity incorrectly or can't guess it at all, but this is not what makes me upset. the truth is, if you're not arab, it may be hard for you to decipher that i am, and that's okay. 

what's not okay is the shit that i've heard because some people don't know i am arab. i promise you that there's nothing more heartbreaking than someone trash talking about who you are and what you identify with. 

some things i've heard and read in the last few years include "dirty arabs," "all muslims are terrorists," "stop islam," --- 

wait-- let's halt on "stop islam." if i had a car, (which i don't), this is when i would step out and hold up a STOP sign.

let me just get something straight. you think you can start some twitter ass movement, #twitter2016 #fightforyourrights #savetheworld ish by tweeting out "stop islam?" you can't just stop a RELIGION because you think that it is the cause of all the terror and distress in the world. you're wrong. you're trying to get rid of/kill all muslims? my cute ass grandma is muslim. she's really chubby, wears 289572 layers of shawls, smokes shisha all day and wears a hijab. and she messages me on whatsapp with voicenotes that are too long cause she doesn't know how to type a message. 

now, you're telling me, she's a dirty terrorist?

the only crime she's committed is making food that's too damn good and not sending it to me. that's it. i swear. i think she's an actual angel from heaven, or some sort of fairy godmother. 

hold up. she actually looks like her come to think of it.

okay, here's my grandma:

i can assure you, she is NOT a terror or danger to your life. 

when people say, "well, don't you see that muslims are killing everyone?!??!!? they're killing europeans and westerners and christians!!!! DAMN MOSLEMS"

yes, westerners are unfortunately also the casualties of these terrorist attacks. but i don't think people understand where most of the terror is actually occurring. it's happening at home-- in my home. the homes of people in the middle east, no matter their religion. 

though the western world gets almost all of the attention for killings by ISIS and other terrorist groups, the fact is that more muslims have been murdered than those of any other religion. views of ISIS in the middle east are HEAVILY negative.

one must learn to comprehend that these terrorists have no religion, no sense of morale, no brotherhood.  they don't give a shit about muslims, christians, jews, hindus, buddhist, atheists, etc.-- they don't give a shit about anyone. 

now, i'm not here to be a database or get all political, because these figures can be found online. don't think i'm being biased-- i have these same beliefs for all religions, ethnicities, races, etc. you cannot condemn a whole group because of a small sector. that's like if 10 lunch ladies out of the 200 in the city were like: "you know what?! LET'S JUST STOP FEEDING THE KIDS THE FOOD AND EAT IT ALL FOR OURSELVES!"

so what you gonna do now?! hate ALL the lunch ladies of the world?

no, you're not. cause a lot of them are nice and cute and they give you food (JUST LIKE MY GRANDMA). 

now, the thing about me is that as stated above, for the most part, i don't posses v arab traits. what i mean by this is strictly if you're looking at the stereotypical arab traits including:

  • dark eyes
  • dark hair
  • brown skin
  • hairy AF = you're a gorilla
  • you smell like bakhoor <-- click for photo
  • you wear a hijab or niqab/burka/dishdash
  • you smell like HEAVY cologne
  • you always drink at your local starbucks and park your mustang outside
  • you have 78 phones and a bluetooth
  • you show off your pet tigers and $$$$$$$$$$$

i grew up with parents who raised me and my siblings as muslim kiddos. my mom does not wear a hijab, i don't wear a hijab and i was never ever forced to. my hair and eyes are light due to my mother's side of the family, and i don't like bukhoor because it reminds me of how mall of the emirates smells and i hate it. 

i know plenty of stories and plenty of people who have been verbally harassed and flooded with racist comments because they wear a hijab or "look arab" or spoke arabic in public or whatever else bullshit someone can come up with. i'm arab too! why have i never been told off in public? is it strange i'm sort of offended? just because i'm not dark skinned or wear a hijab, i am exempt from insults and mockery? honestly, i would rather be spoken of/scornfully to than be excluded and not be with all my arab brothers and sisters --high fives with a shawarma in hand--

maybe i can hypothesize is that it's because i don't look arab or look muslim. but the truth is, this comment should be void of any legitimacy. because not all arabs are muslim, and not all arabs look a certain way (and vice versa). 

i think i just wish people asked me more questions. i think i just wish people asked more questions in general. i love to discuss these issues and i'm always open to debate these topics because at least it means that we're finally actually having a conversation. --end of pt. 1--