“Go Back to Where You Came From!”

I had heard stories. But, I never thought the day would come when someone would recommend (for lack of a better word) I go back to where I was “from”. So, I was waiting for a parking spot yesterday at the mall when a lady decides she has a right to it before me. I refused to move my car, as I had been waiting there long before she had. I can see through her window that she is yelling obscenities. She apparently gave up the fight bitterly and as she drives past me with a lowered window, she yells “You know what? Go back to where you f***ing came from!”


I wish I could tell you that I rose above the situation…that I bore my patience like any good Muslim should. But, I didn’t. I yelled back in my best English so she knew exactly where I was from. After I texted a friend to tell the story of this xenophobic woman, he said “I’m glad you are better than that”. The truth is that this time, I wasn’t. It reminds me of the monologue titled “I’m Tired” where the Muslim-American character breaks down one day and cusses someone out who attacks her in a similar way.

The crazy part is that Miami is the most diverse city in the country. Miami was built by immigrants–Cubans, Haitians, Jews, and other non-Caucasian groups! I would expect to hear such a comment in a place where “brown” people aren’t common. But in Miami? And besides, I am an American, this is my only country–so the comment was absurd to say the least. What is crazier is that I wasn’t wearing a headscarf, but instead a winter-y hat that covered my hair. I wasn’t “out-of-place” per say. It wasn’t really Islamophobia, but just plain ol’ brown-o-phobia? Did this psycho think she can carry her white privilege over my parking spot? Her invisible knapsack wasn’t welcome here and she wasn’t havin’ it.

What? I am still in shock.

I wish I had more time to remind her that the only folks who have a right to send anyone back to where they came from are the Native Americans….and they are generally still far more polite than she could ever be. But that kind of comment may have cause her to actually think. Heaven forbid I’d shake her whole universe at once.

6 thoughts on ““Go Back to Where You Came From!”

  1. 😦
    Man! Where’s this post-racial, colorblind America everyone been talking about? I guess it ain’t in the MIA. I’ve been to Miami only once, and as far as I can remember, if you aren’t a person of color, YOU are the minority. You should coin the term brown-o-phobia, sis, and humbly ask the Native American chief if you can stay. I know I’m gonna do it…

    • Anthony,
      These scenarios aren’t common in Miami. But ironically, I have never experienced any kind of prejudice in the mostly-white town where I currently live. In fact, I have only experienced support, open-mindedness, and kindness. The occasional ignorant questions, yes. But I prefer individuals who express curiosity even if it comes off the wrong way at first. Curious people, I have learned, are mostly just interested in understanding things they do not know. On the other hand, there are straight up rude people…those are the ones that try my patience the most. And God knows I am not as patient as I could be. But hey, it’s all part of “the test”, right?

  2. What about people who assume you are Muslim because it’s your culture? It’s as if some people really believe no one reverts to Islam, they’re all born into it due to their family or their nationality.

    Being a person of eastern European and Romani (gypsy) descent, I’m considered white for all intensive purposes, and have not experienced this same kind of discrimination. However, I do have people ask me where I’m from…about Bosnia and Albania, the war with the Serbs…etc. When I tell them I’m American they just kind of stare at me blankly. It’s sort of funny, but even more so just sad as a testament to ignorance.

    You make a great point about the Native Americans, ironically it’s the same one I always bring up when I hear some ignorance about immigration. People seem to forget how this country was really acquired.

  3. Yea, I think that there is a lot of ignorance out there-not just white people, but people in general. I am currently living in a mostly-white town and every has always asked me where I am from. Before wearing hijab and after wearing hijab. Except, now most people can’t believe I’m a Latina convert to Islam. Most responses are positive surprise, but sometimes they seem confused.

    I have started to realize that you can’t explain things all the time. Sometimes, we need to have those conversations; other times, we just need to let people figure things out on their own. Actually, this just reminded me of another one of my experiences where I was approached by someone with all these assumptions about who I was (a well-intentioned man, but a dummy nonetheless lol): https://mahamuslimah.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/stereotyping-orientalism-and-a-total-conversation-fail/

  4. I could feel the awkwardness just reading that blog lol. There’s a lot of latino/a muslims where I live, most of the reverts i know are latin. It’s amazing how these things are such a surprise to non-Muslims, sometimes I really feel like Islam is secretive, when it really isn’t…

    That’s most things, though, people don’t know so they just assume. I guess you’re right, some people really just can’t be swayed either way. Do what you can and leave it at that.

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