Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A mass apology in response to my otherness

I write a letter in apology on behalf of the otherness I blatantly display with my brown skin, black hair and soulful dark eyes. The way I unthinkingly mix languages when I talk, switching between them as easily as you would blink. I apologise for my inability to remain indivisible and insistence on being treated like an individual. I realise that the aforementioned qualities I carry make you feel uncomfortable, as you sit there willing me to fit into a box, imploring me not to challenge your preconceived notions about me. A double burden you’ve placed on my shoulders; firstly I am female, secondly I am the other, a representation of cultural images I did nothing to encourage in your head. You wish my compliance when you talk to me of an exotic imagery; your face shocked when I refute your notions of me. I apologise for not living in a tent, surrounded by palm trees with an oil well in an oasis. My eyes meet yours and you step back, you see this as disdain for daring to meet your gaze instead of studying the floor. My lips widen in a smile, to you I appear threatening, I realise and apologise for not making an effort at appearing unresponsive. When I voice my opinion loudly, another apology is due to your enlightened self, for I realise that a brown female should not counter response in such a brazen manner.

In order to put you at ease I suggest you erase me from your memory banks, I will only serve to shatter the illusions you have worked hard to conjure up of subservient Arab females. You may once again imagine a harem full of women belly dancing in front of their sheik, bodies ready for male pleasure in hidden corners. If such images are not always useful, you may go back to seeing a terrorist hiding behind my eyes. If the abovementioned options do not please you, I suggest you vehemently deny my existence, you may find yourself more comfortable in denouncing the otherness I will always represent to you.

With kindest regards,

The other.