I don’t really like to use this as a platform to complain about my life, especially when I haven’t written anything in so long. Who wants to hear me yammer on about nothing, especially when I’m not even going in on a crappy game or a bad comic? Right? Well, I’ve had it, and I’m sick, and in the words of Howard Beale, “…I’m not gonna take it anymore.”
For the last few weeks, my job has given me the opportunity to donate to a good cause AND grow my beard at the same time. Win-win! If you know me, you know that for the longest time, my beard was a part of me. It’s just who I am. Some people rock the mustache forever, and you know it’s them and if they were to shave it off they would look weird without it. Tom Selleck for example. Don’t even try imagining him without it, it’s not possible. Well that’s how I feel. Always. So yes, I grew my marvelous black beard, with hints of red and a tinge of blonde (I swear it’s not an analogy for weed) to as full a glory as eight weeks buys me. My time with it is almost done, come the end of the month, unless by some miracle I get an extension.
Sadly, the opportunity to grow a piece of me back came at a price, donation not withstanding. Every night I go in to work, and I’m met, every single night, with light-hearted jabs of racism; I’m called racial Muslim slurs. I won’t deny that, sure, I look a bit middle-eastern thanks to the Moorish influence on my Spanish ancestry. That doesn’t bother me, and why should it? I’m beautiful in my own horrific way. In the past, I’ve been called a beaner, and that didn’t bother me because I enjoyed strength in numbers. Technically Hispanics would be the majority if it weren’t for that W on the census. For a time I worked at Schlotzsky’s and a guy didn’t like the way my “dirty hands” touched his cup. My hands were always sanitized, they just weren’t the right shade of white, I suppose. I’ve been racially profiled by the police, one in particular that really stands out. Be careful when trekking for some Whataburger at 1am, after binge-playing Majora’s Mask on Gamecube. The cops are looking for you. Hell I got racially profiled at Donut Taco Palace a few weeks ago, but that didn’t bother me (too much) because I’m a semi-regular there. It still bothers me when people call me Mexican, as if I’m not good enough to be called an American. I’ve lived in Austin my entire life. I’m more well-spoken than most of my white counterparts who received a better education, and yet, I’m just a simple Mexican who talks white. I digress.
So yeah, wetback jokes I can handle. I have dragon skin for those. But when it comes to labeling me a terrorist, by saying things like, “oh check his bag for a bomb hehehe,” or, “there he is. Swarm him before he kills us all bwahaha,” my brain can’t process what’s happening. And it’s everyday with this crap. And I’m not coming from a place of, “Hey I’m one of you guys, I would never…” it’s more, “I’m not Muslim, but if I was, Fuck yourself.” I leave every day defeated, because if I were Muslim, who do I confide in? I don’t have the support system. There’s no one at work I can run to for advice on dealing with this. I don’t go home without being looked over more than twice, or called, Osama, or infidel, or my favorite, Asalamalecka, or any other gibberish that I’m sure they think is actually Arabic. I actually just Googled the word, and it came up asalamalakum, which means, “Peace be upon you.” Correct me if I’m wrong. Though, I’m quite sure these people didn’t know that.
I complained about this with some coworkers who I felt would take my side, but no one sees the harm being done. There’s no point of contention, no ignorance on their part, just the perception that I “look like a terrorist dude.” “Shave it,” they say, like I’m supposed to go back to normal. And I guess that’s the issue. This IS normal, it’s MY normal. I feel like I’ve unintentionally walked in someone else’s shoes, and it’s left me with a feeling of disgust, a loss of self-worth. It’s a very miniscule form of oppression, a fear tactic under the guise of bad comedy, but still nothing I’d wish on anyone. Well, maybe for the assholes doing the name-calling. Regardless, I have no plans to shave my beard. I’m wearing this fine friend of mine to the end of the month, and even longer if they let me. And for all my Muslim brothers and sisters out there, I’m sincerely sorry for the way my country has treated you. Just know you have a friend in me.