My neighbors (most likely) think I am from the Middle East

Being an Arab shouldn’t be a problem, and I am not offended by this assumption in the slightest. However, Germans (I am speaking for Cologne) have been more outspoken about anything they deem “odd” in their community circles since the New Year’s assaults.

In my last post I was upset about a woman who aggressively questioned me while taking blog photos. She tried to tell me that this area was private (it’s not), that I wasn’t allowed to take photos here (I am) and that she was calling the police (wait what). Even before this incident, I had a slight suspicion that their questioning may be racism fueled. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions because I am not one to become offended by that. I make fun of my skin, hair, poop brown eyes and Mexicans all the time. However, I do have a problem with those who are unreasonably rude to me because of the color of my skin.

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I may regret typing this, and I may delete it later so I’ll remain vague, but I experienced racism the first time I visited Germany as well. I had to spend some time in a certain place as part of a college study abroad program, and I was treated very poorly. I was even refused at the door by a shoe shop in the neighborhood. This place I was supposed to spend a few weeks at wanted me gone after a week, and I remember calling my mom crying because I was miserable.

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While taking these photos today, an older man and a young girl were riding bikes together. I was putting my hand over my lens and standing to the side anytime people passed, and I heard him telling the young girl, “She has a camera.” I told them hello as they passed me, and I didn’t see him again until I was finished taking photos. He politely asked me if everything had turned out all right, and if I had taken any nice shots. I said yes and he asked to see one. While I was going through my camera for a non-derp photo, I joked about my German being embarrassing because I kept fumbling with my words. He responded, “My Arabic is too.”

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Cogs clicked into place in my head, but I remained calm and told him that I was from the U.S., Texas specifically. Even though he had been nice to me before, his attitude seemed to change from curiosity to relief and he left immediately.

I can’t help but think that the woman I encountered last week, and the people before her, are assuming that I am an Arab, the very people they are showing prejudice towards. I understand their concerns and worries, but since Germany managed to redeem itself from a grueling past, it would be a shame if they began to tarnish their reputation again with damaging assumptions. It’s worrisome enough how racially insensitive their Carnival celebrations are, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

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I still love this country and I am happy it is my home. I just hope to one day receive mutual respect from my neighbors. I have done nothing to betray trust, and I promise, as is evident here, that my photos are only of my dumb self.

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Jacket: American Eagle (similar)
Top: H&M (similar)
Skirt: Banana Republic
Shoes: Topshop
Earrings: H&M

Alright, this is a style blog after all. These shoes are the most dangerous clothing item I own, and also the most comfortable. I was feeling a bit “dressed up” in this outfit, so I toned it down with a jean jacket. If you’re looking for a fitted soft denim jacket, I highly recommend American Eagle’s selection. I’ve outgrown their clothing, but their denim is hard to beat.

  • Lydia Sifuentez Moreno

    I had a feeling all along they thought you were Arabic. Just hang in there, baby. Change is never easy.

  • The thought that you were Arabic totally didn’t dawn on me until you posted about it on IG. I mean… I guess I’m not surprised that they are nervous, but I AM surprised that they are so vocal about it to someone who has not been a threat *at all*. Like, seriously? Sigh. I hope this passes. 🙁