Race Rant.
2006-03-02/11:07 p.m.

As a middle eastern person I am often being annoyed by the media. Don't even get me started on the terrorists on 24 (or the fact that most of them are "middle eastern" but the actors are usually Mexican or Greek like brown is brown no matter where you come from... uh oh, I think I'm getting myself started). If I see another vague middle eastern terrorist caricature on tv, I am going to scream.

Imagine if every white guy you saw on tv was a hillbilly, who could barely read and write, who beat his wife and children, and kept a stockpile of weapons in the basement. That's what happens when you take a negative stereotype and make it the norm. Yes. Some terrorists are middle eastern. Yes. Some white guys are abusive, gun-toting, hillbillies.

The new offender is the very funny show Campus Ladies on Oxygen. Every time the "persian" character enters the scene, I get annoyed. Apparently the actor may actually be persian too. For once! Yet, there he is, doing some weird mish-mash accent that sounds more Indian than anything, and they named him Abdul which also seems more Indian. He's not a terrorist, which is a great step up, but he is an idiot, so I don't really know where that leaves things.

I also looked up his IMDB page and it looks like he plays Indians and Iraqis more than anything else. So I guess me, and casting directors agree. Or it's another case of brown being brown being brown and no one caring about the differences between them. It lists "middle eastern" accent as one of his skills on his resume. UGH. That would be like saying "american" accent or "european" accent, like there are no variations depending on region. Boo to you, sir. No wonder he sounds so crappy and vague on the show.

Since I am a mix of middle eastern and whitey white person, I am constantly being mistaken for different races. People have thought I am: Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Greek, Arab (from many countries), Persian, Israeli (and just generally "jewish") and French.

Once a man on the 6 train platform asked me which train was express and which was local. After I explained it to him he said that the trains in Israel are much easier to figure out, because there are less of them, and then said "well, you know what I mean." Up until this point he was being very chummy. Then I said "oh, I've never been to Israel," and he replied "all jews should go there!" Not in a menacing way but very much like a grandpa. Then I said "well, I'm not Jewish, I am Iranian." He then got quiet and said "I never would have guessed.....I am sorry," and then walked off and stood on another side of the platform.

Variations on this story happen to me fairly often. Oh! And once I was in England with my sister and some dude just walked up to me and kicked me. Then he walked off. My cousin's husband said he probably thought I was Italian and that the English are often angry towards the Italians*. Hmmm, okay. I guess that explains being kicked by a stranger! Crazy Europeans.

*we didn't understand until we went to the big, touristy wax museum and this large Italian family cut right in front of us in this long line. We said "excuse me, there is a line" and they just kept gesturing and wildly speaking Italian- then very brokenly said they did not speak English. Once inside the museum Sarah and I both clearly heard them speaking English. It was bullshit. Just remembering that makes me want to kick someone....


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