What If….

The other day, a man walked by me and my husband on a street in Casablanca and called out “Cote d’Ivoire!”  I think he found it clever because ivory is white and the Ivory Coast is a country of dark-skinned people.  Unfortunately I didn’t think of my comeback quite fast enough, because the man was already out of hearing range when I called back at him, “la mongolie!”  I too can play the calling-out-random-countries-at-strangers game.

This got me thinking, what would happen if things that are common on the streets of Morocco were to happen in the U.S.?  If this exact episode happened in America, I’m pretty sure that any onlookers would think that the man must have a mental illness; why else would he call out something either completely random, or potentially very offensive?

Similarly, people (men) often tell me that I am welcome in Morocco, even after more than three years of living here.  What if a white American told an Asian-American that he/she were welcome in the United States?  I don’t think that comment would go over well.

What people wear on the streets in Morocco is not the same as what they wear at work or indoors.  Today I wore a knee-length skirt to work, and plenty of men along my walk had something to say about it.  That same skirt would be considered pretty modest in the U.S., and probably would not turn any heads.

Occasionally young boys call Africans the word “azzi,” a shortened version of the Arabic word for black.  Sometimes they say “abid,” meaning slave.  If that came to the U.S., the Black Lives Matter movement would have plenty to say about it.

Morocco is not the U.S., so those things will probably keep happening for years to come.  Maybe when I get to Boston I’ll bring yelling things at random people on the street into fashion.  Or not….


2 thoughts on “What If….

  1. After many years of clonial occupation, many Moroccains developed inferority complex. Once in a spice store, i saw the store onwer served the Europeans first, and an Asian woman the last , although she was the first in the line. It was so obvious that many customers pointed out.

    I like many aspect of Morocco, but i think it has a long way in developing its true authentic thinking instead of just rely on hypocampus in directing its brain.

  2. I’ve had these same exact thoughts!!! It seems absolutely crazy to me when I picture myself doing something like shouting “konnichiwa!” at a random person that looks Asian. Or if I welcomed someone to my country based on their appearance. I’ve been welcomed to Morocco on many occasions. Something that I’ve found interesting and that helped me to think about how it makes people here in the US is being shamed for not speaking French or Arabic. I’ve lived in Casa for the past 9 months and I’ve had taxi drivers get angry with my limited language ability and tell me that I’m in Morocco and I’m obligated to speak French or Arabic. I’ve had people at the police station talk about me in French or Arabic and it just feels terrible! I can now imagine what it feels like for the people in the US that are told “you’re in America, you need to speak English!” When it’s really not that easy. Learning a new language is so incredibly difficult and it takes a lot of courage to use it.
    I really like your blog. Maybe because it’s so relevant to my everyday life. I look forward to reading more!

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