I usually try to write about more lighthearted subjects and keep away from the truly serious, but about 2 weeks ago something happened to a friend of mine and I have not been able to forget it. I didn’t want to blog about it and I just wanted to let it go, but it is bothering me and I decided to basically in a sense let it out.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a little windy, of course since it’s Reno, and I was walking downtown with a friend of mine, she’s Chinese. We were waiting at the bus stop to take the Sierra spirit bus back towards the campus, we were talking and laughing and enjoying the general atmosphere of a great and busy Sunday. A car drives by and a middle aged man, he was Caucasian and had salt and pepper hair, stuck his head out of the car window and yelled “go back to your own country” to my friend. At that point the two of us had our mouths wide open in utter shock, neither of us could believe that this had just happened, we weren’t sure how to react, it all happened in a second and the car was long gone after we got over the initial shock of it.
I am the kind of person who would stand up for someone in that situation and say something but not only was he in the comfort of a moving car, but I was also in shock for a long time and almost speechless. I didn’t know if I should say mean things about the man or comfort my friend. We were almost laughing because the situation was comically unbelievable.
I have so many questions in my head especially since a similar thing happened to myself almost 3 years ago when I had just moved to the country. A female student at UNR, someone I was just meeting for the first time had only one word to say to me after she asked me where I was from and I responded Iran, she just looked at me and said “ew.” I don’t think anything has ever hurt me more, but I am over it now and have recently experienced being a spectator of this kind of action.
What goes through a person’s mind when they are about to say something like that? What makes it ok? This should not be acceptable in any country but I think it should especially be unacceptable in a country that was built on immigrants from all over the world, my friend even though she looks Asian, she and her parents could have both been born in the United States.
I truly would love the opportunity to meet that man in the car that day and just ask him why he did what he did. I want to know if it’s the race issue or does it go beyond that? If it is the race, then why? I hope I can find answers someday.