Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nouri Lumendifi's encounter with prejudice

This remarkable high school kid of Middle Eastern extraction has been blogging a year and a half and doing a great job. I'm not sure, but I think his family may have come from Algeria or elsewhere in the Maghreb. Yesterday's post is a study in maturity and constraint in the face of what can only be described as mind-numbing ignorance on the part of a few of his classmates. As a fifth generation American citizen I used to be embarrassed by such behavior, but I have come to realize that their stripe of prejudice is a transnational quality found all over the world. Fortunately Nouri, like so many immigrants from all over the world before him, has learned to stick up for himself. This part of his post reads like a scene from a movie...

...I was chased home multiple times during 7th grade, for about two or three weeks after 9/11 as black and caucasian peers chased after me throwing rocks and bricks and shouted racial slurs (Ay-rab, "Afghan niggaaar," sandmonkey, desert bunny, Hadji, Usama, etc.) at me. I was beaten pretty badly on several occasions, often to the point where I was bleeding or had bruses or black eyes. The last time I did this I stood up for myself, as no other people would help me (not school administrators, not peers, not anyone). I confronted one kid in particular, Aaron, who took great pleasure in calling me "Afghan niggaaaar" and telling me to "go back to the desert". I engaged him in hand to hand combat. He punched me, I punched him, kicked him and eventually got him on the ground. I pulled him over to a telephone pole with many staples on it from different fliers and advertisements from over the years on it. As his posse watched I smacked his head into the telephone pole, and moved it up and down so that he was cut by the staples. I then walked off. They had no idea as to what to do and just sort of stood there. I was never physically assaulted in such a manner again, though I was still called names.

I am reminded of Al Capone's line that you can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word. In a more recent encounter his response is slightly less dramatic, and the sting of being the object of racist attitudes is still apparent. A dedication to non-violence holds me to another standard, but there is nothing in my system forbidding satisfaction if a non-pacifist takes a more forceful course in his own defense.
Last week I was also physically attacked by a group of four guys, none of whom I know or have seen before. These guys asked for my wallet, I said no, they pushed me, and said "Eye-racki, give up the oil money," I again said no. More slurs, "Fuckin' Ay-rab, go home." I told them I am going home if they would just step to the side. "Ay-rab doesn't know his place," I then shouted a profanity at them in Berber. I am not an Arab! They punched me. So I took a cheap shot and knocked one of the bastards in the nads and made off. I kept my wallet, by the way. Don't think I'm some kind of super fighter either; I'm skinny, damn near weightless and don't really know how to fight. I just know how to preserve, and I don't like fighting. I firmly believe the saying that "The ink of the scholar is worth more than the blood of the martyr".
This kid has class.
He's right, too, about the ink of the scholar...
Link here to my first post about Nouri.
Now go read his post from yesterday.

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