Today, a friend of mine posted this Facebook exchange.
(I edited the names because I’m not interested in getting any of these people trolled – even the one who deserves it.)
Maneesh, as many may have surmised, is an American of Indian descent.
Sadly, this kind of response is common to those of us Americans with brown faces and non-European surnames. Ask me how I know.
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Got it mostly when I tried to tell conservatives that the Luos of Kenya–my tribe and Obama’s alleged tribe–were 90% Christian and that the tribe was not an Arab tribe, nor a “slaver tribe” of all the rest of the tribes in the region; that was the prevalent Bravo Sierra. Also, I received the Muslim-apologist treatment when I tried to tell people that Kenya’s 2008 Civil Conflict was not some sort of epic battle between Christianity and Islam, but a mundane tribal war. These notions have been the Fake News of nearly a decade.
Funny, none of the people who pontificated as Kenya experts back then give a rat’s furry backside about the country now.
I’ve had a long time to ponder the negative reactions of the very few of my fellow Americans to my name and my heritage. Most of it is fear of Islam. Justifiable, but people need to get a grip and stop pushing away fellow Americans who are allies and whose “funny names” are not an indication of their religious allegiance.
And here’s a notion that I don’t think I’ve ever put on screen. An online acquaintance who, quite correctly thinks that accusations of racism are overblown, wondered a few years ago which, if any, aspects of American slavery still affect Americans who are black in this century. I didn’t get the chance to answer then, but I’ll answer now: most black Americans have surnames of European origin. It’s so nearly universal that we don’t notice it anymore, not even me. Therefore, when some black chick named Ochieng pops up, it’s a curiosity and, sometimes it instills unconscious fear in those who are already afraid. Think this through.
All I know is that the Spirits of fear, violence, and tribalism are on the upswing in our country. I, however, think it’s up to those of us who refuse to let those spirits master us to speak up, to understand, and, most of all, to pray without ceasing to the Lord of Hosts.
(Thanks to Christine)
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.
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