Yes, I know this wasn’t my most brightest idea. Can you really blame me though? We all have fallen in love and done questionable actions. This most certainly was one of them.
Word trade center taken by Hugo Morel
Before you think I joined the nation of Islam, let’s backtrack a few months. I was dating my girlfriend at that time who was originally from Egypt. She was someone who meant the world to me. This was the same one I broke up with on my travels throughout Europe. Someone who played a part of my life for three years. I bought the tickets to go to Egypt before we broke up. I wanted to see her hometown and her life before she left to live in the western world.
Protester’s signs of 9/11 taken by Hugo Morel
Of course we broke up; however, life goes on. So, I was stuck with tickets to Egypt. Might as well make the most of it. Didn’t realize that the tickets were on 9/11, until after it was too late to cancel without a fee. Now looking back, it’s ironic that I work at the world trade center while writing this post. Also, the building where I work was completely destroyed during 9/11. Life has a weird sense of humor.
Now back to the story, my family heard of me traveling on 9/11. They were extremely worried and upset. I couldn’t tell them that I was going to the Middle East because I didn’t want any unnecessary heart attacks. They just told me to make sure I bring a cross necklace with me. Looking back, that’s probably what saved me.
flying out of JFK with a view over Manhattan taken by Hugo Morel
When I finally got to the airport, everything was normal; until, I got to the check in. I was traveling on a German airline. The airline worker at the front desk looked at me, then at looked at the ticket. She said in a worried tone,”oh, you are going to that country.” Asked her what she meant by that; however, she changed the subject. Deep down, I knew they thought I was probably some type of terrorist. This the first time ever I experienced racism in perspective of an Arab.
Got to the security, where they check your bags. Showed the security guard my ticket and he gave me a face of hatred. He didn’t questioned it, just kept giving me a look of hate. I could sense, I wasn’t welcomed.
Finally, got to the line to put your bags through the x-rays machine. Not sure, if the security guard told his coworker where I was going but, they pulled me to the side. The guard asked me in a serious tone, “where are you going?” Told him that I was going to Egypt. He kept looking at me funny. Then he noticed, I was wearing a necklace. He asked in a demanding voice, “what’s that on your neck?!” I responded,”it’s a cross my family told me to wear.” I pulled it out and he studied it. After a few minutes, he let me go on my way and gave me back my cross. Finally, got my bags and my Egyptian adventures were about to start.
Sitting on the plane waiting for the take off, I started thinking. This experience really changed my views. I started wondering, if this is something Arabs have to face a lot. The weird thing is that I’m actually of Lebanese descent. However, my family that are Lebanese are Maronite Christians. So this experience was really new to me. Plus, I never was once treated like an Arab because not many people know that about me. I just tell them, I’m afrolatino because that’s how I was raised to be. After this experience, I have empathy towards middle Eastern people.
Thank you for taking your time reading this post. Much love and safe travels!