Thursday, June, 5, 08

If you see something, say something. Something would be me.

I am getting ready to fly out tonight. Maz Jobrani – an Iranian comedian – jokes about how whenever he goes to the airport he suddenly feels paranoid, like maybe he does have a weapon on him or maybe he is a terrorist. I laughed when I first heard him say that, mostly because I always get the same feeling. So, I woke early this morning, around 630 with a heavy pain in my chest and deep rumble in my stomach. Here we go, I thought, panic attack. I sat up slowly. I thought maybe if I could get up and move around, but no, that didn’t help. And I was exhausted. I was too tired to be awake this early, especially without work today. I lay back down finally. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
I am not afraid of flying. I never have been.
Airports, on the other hand, terrify me. They always have. I used to associate them with business trips my dad took, long far away places, for long far away months. I used to cry at the gate.
I hate airports because I am randomly searched, hands search my body for threats, eyes stare accusingly.
Agah sets off the red alert.
Now, though, without my scarf, I have managed to breeze through. My last flight was in the US and I was not stopped. I was almost angry. How dare they pass me by? How dare they ignore my blood? My religion?
Today I fly internationally. I have my scarf in my passport picture. I keep thinking I will be pulled aside for questioning. Why did you take it off? Who are you trying to fool? I always have smart-ass remarks in my head. But I shut down at the airport. I follow orders. The last thing I want is to be sitting in some orange jump suit waiting for my next torture session.
I sound paranoid because I am paranoid. And with reason. Anyone who doubts me, calls me crazy, well they can spend one day in my shoes, in my mind, in my heart.
I dreamt about a month ago that when trying to return from Ireland the US would not allow me back into the country. But instead of keeping me in Ireland they detained me at JFK, held me there for 2 weeks, tortured me. But I refused to speak. Not in Farsi, not in English. I remained silent and stone faced for 2 weeks. They will not break me, I thought. They will not make me confess to things I did not do. They will not make me turn on people I love. And all I could think is that they are going to get my family.
I was taught by this government, by this society, by this media, that I am a threat, that my people are threats. I have caught myself staring suspiciously at Muslims and Middle Easterners. I remember as a kid I sometimes thought, maybe Mommy and Baba really do work for the CIA and sometimes I thought maybe my family really is a threat to this country. When 9/11 happened I thought, maybe there is evidence against us, maybe we did do something! I felt so guilty for these thoughts, and feel guilty when I look on my own with suspicion. But do you see? Do you see what this world has done to me, to my people? And we are only one small group. We are only one group of oppressed peoples.
I read those posters in the subway about 1,944 New Yorkers seeing something and saying something and I wonder how many of the things that they saw were associated with Middle Easterners and Muslims and how many of those were actual threats, if any?
I am flying out tonight. I am flying out tonight. I will not be paranoid. I will not hate myself. I will not allow anyone or anything to bring suspicion upon myself. I will not be suspicious of any Muslim or Middle Easterner I see. I will love myself.

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