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….