Trabuco Canyon, CA
Funny right. But I feel as though if you really want to laugh I should share some of my personal favorites: ‘Do you drive a camel to school?’, ‘ Are you related to King Tut?’, and ‘ Can you read Hieroglyphics?’. No, no, and you guessed it, no.
Growing up, I have been asked these seemingly ignorant questions and many others by both children and adults. Some jokingly but many seriously. At first it bothered me a little. How can these people that I go to school with and participate in activities ask such silly questions. But I realized that most people simply don’t know. Think about it. Did you know that Cairo is a booming city with skyscrapers and not just sand dunes. Did you know that Egypt has some of the most beautiful and vibrant beaches? Maybe but maybe not. You are taught about ancient Egypt in the 4th grade but nothing after that which probably permeates the assumed images that result in the questions above. Of course, there is barely enough room in the education you take from elementary to high school to thoroughly study modern civilizations other than America, however I feel as though we as a country need to be more aware. This awareness doesn’t have to come from formal education but rather a few pictures or videos showing the massive growth that many countries are going through today.
After this realization, I no longer got annoyed, rather I welcomed the inquires. If I could help someone gain a new perspective, then why not? I shouldn’t expect people to know my culture if they have never been exposed to it. All I ask and I would say any person of color asks, is to be treated with the basic respect that you would give anyone you come in contact with. In general, the way you treat your fellow man should not be contingent on my ethnicity or race.
Although there was the occasional malicious person, I took pride in being an Egyptian-American. I would say it grounded me in a way, never allowing me to forget where I came from. Both my parents emigrated to the US in the 90s and worked their butts off to create a comfortable lifestyle for me and my brothers. They instilled that spirit in me to never be afraid to push the boundaries of success. So when it came to finding that balance between my culture and the community I live in, I learned to be patient and open to learning new things about where others come from as well:)