A Letter to My First Real Life Bigot | By Sanaa Humayun

To the Person Who Spat at my Feet:

I’ll admit, I’m impressed. It takes a certain level of dedication to commit to an act of hatred. I mean, I’m assuming your message came from a place of hatred. You didn’t give me a lot to go on, but saying “I hope you and your people die” is a fairly self-explanatory judgement of my race. And to do so on campus? Well, I admire your conviction.

I’m also impressed with your accuracy. How could you tell, bundled up as I was, that I come from a Muslim family? I assume that even though I am not a practicing Muslim, being born into a practicing family is enough of a transgression. In my thirty second walk from the bus to SAB, you were able to ascertain my ethnicity and hone in. Was the brief glimpse of brown skin and dark hair poking out from above my scarf enough of a giveaway? Or have you just been assaulting every vaguely tan person you come across in the pursuit of your righteous cause?

Your execution, however, left something to be desired. I’m assuming when you spat at me, you were hoping to actually hit me, and not just spatter the pavement around my feet. Your blind hatred probably affected your aim, though, so I won’t hold it against you.

Another critique, if I may: you blew through your assault so fast, I didn’t even get a chance to respond! There are so many things I would have said to you, if only given the opportunity.

First off, I wish I could tell you that statistically, as a white male, you are more likely to be a threat here in North America than I. As far as stereotypes go, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

While you whispered death threats lovingly in my ear, I glimpsed Greek symbols on your shirt, and realized you’re part of a fraternity on campus. I wish I could tell you that this is not the message of acceptance and friendship that our Greek community tries so hard to achieve, that you fell right into that frat-boy stereotype that our fraternities try so desperately to move away from.

Most of all, though, I wish I could tell you that I pity you. I’ve never encountered anybody like you before. I’ve never seen someone so comfortable with their racism, able to proudly tell a stranger that they wish death upon them.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to carry that much hatred in your heart, and I wouldn’t wish that poison on anybody. Your prejudice will destroy you, but more than that, it will destroy innocent people who do not deserve it. Your narrow-mindedness has no place on a university campus, and has no place in a multicultural society.

And so I guess what I’m saying is that this whole experience has left me thankful. The response from people I know has been unequivocally supportive. For every bigot like you, there are a hundred more people who prioritize love and respect, and those are the people that will actually make a difference.

So a word of advice, friend: no one cares. Keep that shit to yourself.

 

Banner Design by Wanderer Online Design Editor Janelle Holod; Hand Icon by Deivid Sáenz for the Noun Project.

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  • Sharyar Memon

    Beautiful piece!

  • disqus_w95rmsBqLh

    I think you should bring it to the attention of the fraternity he was wearing the letters of. They need to be aware of it. That shit is totally unacceptable!

    • disqus_w95rmsBqLh

      Heck. if you don’t feel comfortable confronting them I definitely will. I’m an alumnae of one of the female fraternities on campus, and I will go right to their alumnae and executive. Let me know if you want a hand.

  • Dorothy Hamilton

    Yeah, definitely contact his fraternity if you remember which one it was. This kind of action requires consequences and this kind of bullshit is completely unacceptable on our campus. I’m sorry about your experience, and thank you for writing something so beautiful in response.

  • h556

    I am truly appalled this happened to you. It’s disgusting and clearly a demonstration of the worst that humanity can offer.

    However, the majority of what I see in the world is beautiful. Even if it isn’t the majority (which I believe it is), that is what I choose to believe, because enough of it is out there. I see Calgarians going to the airport to welcome amazing refugee families. I see politicians (again, the majority in this country) finding a way to make things work. I see the occasional bigot on social media quickly shut down by a friend.

    I ask, honestly: how is your piece productive? finding the piece of shit amongst a world of diamonds?

    • thatsmysecretcap

      Recollections like this are productive because this ‘world of diamonds’ wouldn’t exist if people didn’t call attention to the shitstains that needed to be cleaned.

      • h556

        Respectively, I disagree. I believe this article contributes to a Us vs Them rhetoric that now aligns “sensible people” unfairly against “white fraternity males”. This is an unfair line to draw.
        Furthermore, I believe spreading messages of love and hope and optimism are much more productive than these one in a million stories. People who did this to the OP should be ignored and given zero attention, because that is all they are worth.

        “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” – Jack Layton

        • thatsmysecretcap

          The mentions of race and “fraternity” though are only small components of the article’s message. In fact, the author even follows up her observation by defending fraternity efforts. This racist, whoever they may be, is undermining the attempt to cast off such stereotypes. It’s fairly clear that she doesn’t intend to divide, rather, she intends to draw attention to both her experience and how such incidents stain entire communities.

          I agree though that attention shouldn’t be drawn to the perpetrator, but incidents like this shouldn’t be swept under the rug, so to speak. Victims of such harassment should have a voice, even if that voice disturbs an illusion of peace.

          • h556

            Fair enough, I don’t think it is fair for either of us to speak as to the intent of the author, but I did find some of it to be divisive. Again, I don’t see the benefit of pointing out the worst member of a group as it has the potential to ‘stain entire communities’. It seems similar to people, who are like-minded with the perpetrator, who judge the entire Muslim community on the the actions of a few mentally-unstable terrorist extremists.

            I would never take away the voice of a victim, I think it is unfair of me to be accused of doing so. I simply do not understand how this piece is productive.

          • Blue Knox

            Hey @h556:disqus & @thatsmysecretcap:disqus Sanaa did a follow up interview with the Edmonton Journal that clarified her intentions and her message that was really constructive. You might like reading it:
            http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/university-of-alberta-student-fires-back-after-being-spit-at-for-appearing-to-be-a-muslim

  • Britney Murphy

    Good for you that was wonderful !

  • me262_schwalbe

    Bravo Sanaa! I can only guess at the quality of life this poor, unfortunate fellow must be experiencing, having been blinded by such stupidity and complete lack of logic.

  • eponaswolfleader33

    good for you Sanaa hope the jerk gets to see and read this letter.

  • MapleLeaf

    Articulate letter from Sanaa regarding a cowardly act by the frat spitter. His actions & racist views are not representative of the majority of people in Canada. He may be a member of the campus but obviously extremely uneducated in some many other ways.

  • Hellion

    Philosophy is cruel and primal. you said no one cares, but you care. enough to respond. the fundamental mistake is the term racism. dividing humanity into groups based on regional evolutionary changes such as skin colour ect. while it could be argued that ethnicity could be classified as sub species this serves no benefit in defeating the problem of animosity amongst ourselves caused by our higher cognitive function wresting with our primal territorial survival instincts. the generalization of humanity as a single race is uncouth but necessary. racism is stupid. the only way to defeat racism is to laugh at it and deem it unworthy to exist as a concept. instead simply acknowledge that a person physically or verbally abused you in a way un-befitting a member of society. and not in a way that divides you or your ethnicity group as a whole,from the rest of society.

    you lost the battle when decided to act in response to an unfair attack on yourself. you did nothing wrong. however the bigot won the fight because he/she unnerved you which is what he and or she was aiming for. now you and your ethnicity group feel a little bit more isolated. since you spread awareness of the unfair attack on your ethnicity as a posed to simply reporting the offender to the authorities as a common criminal and squashing any notion or racism.

    i believe that acknowledging racism is a form of self pity or defeatism. rather then just recognising the un-called for attack as illegal, the classification of racial derogates draws a distinction between the ethnic groups involved and demands punishment greater than that of a regular crime of the same nature. an excessive punishment inflates the important of one group over the other, further spreads the tension of racial ethnicity groups and creates a self pitiable psychological change in the accuser that could overtime become a serious and socially isolating character flaw.