Tag Archives: slurs

Wopajo

by Guest Contributor Brandann R. Hill-Mann ( OuyangDan)


I grew up a happy, well loved child. I spent my summers resisting shoes and with water-logged skin, insisting I wasn’t cold, even when my lips were purple. My world was a moose’s walk from Canada where I straddled two worlds, never knowing it because I was blissfully unaware until I was much older that I was any different than the other people around me.

One world was that of my Mother’s family. Just off of a Reservation, humid and sweltering in the summer and man-high piles of snow and ice in the winter. We built houses with doors on the second floor, and two mailboxes to make sure you could reach one in the winter. A Northern Michigan Tribe with roots shared in Southern Canada’s First Nations, we were just emerging from that place where it was embarrassing to be ‘injun’. A Native fishing family, we were not exactly well off, but we had floors in our houses and indoor plumbing in an area where owning your own septic system was a sign of great privilege. My grandparents were well respected in our community for being fair and honest, if my Grandfather had a bit of a reputation for a temper if you were trying to be unfair to someone less fortunate than he was.

My mom met my dad when they were very young, and the stories varied depending on who did the telling – and I can’t ask him anymore since he’s been passed away ten years, but I know that my mom was about ten or so. She was about thirteen when they snuck smokes together, and I don’t know how old they were when they realized that they were dating. I do know that they spent about a year apart after my mom graduated high school, and when she showed up with me in her arms, my dad didn’t flinch, and adopted me straight away. Biological or adopted, I was fathered by a white man of European descent.

My Dad’s family was another world. His parents were first generation immigrants — depending on who did the defining — with my grandfather an unexpected surprise to his parents who had just immigrated from Italy, and my grandmother of Dutch parentage. My dad grew up in a privileged white world to a smart businessman of a father who ran a fair business in beer distribution. Every one owed my grandfather,or Papa Joe, a favor at one point or another, even if he had a bit of a temper if you were trying to be unfair. This family loved and doted on me, and I never knew that I was not of their blood until I was a much older child in need of a full medical history. My grandfather even created a unique nickname for me: wopajo. Continue reading

They Called Me a “Spic”

by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Broken Mystic

Over the past week, my friends and I have been playing on a new roller hockey court that isn’t too far from my house. Prior to that, we’ve been playing on a relatively unused basketball court (pictured above) for months, which has been fun for recreational hockey/pick-up games, but we really wanted to play on a better surface and actually use a puck instead of a ball.

We finally found a roller hockey court where a good number of people play at. Although competitive, no one plays a rough game, there are people of all ages, and unsurprisingly, everyone is White. Except for me (also pictured above) and my brother. Being the only person of color at a hockey court isn’t something new to me. When I played for an in-line roller hockey league in high school, I found myself getting self-conscious about it when people, including my teammates, would poke fun at my first and last name. I remember one time, a couple of kids I played hockey with called me a “a stupid Afghanistanian” when I was carrying my hockey gear off the court.

I find myself operating under White gaze a lot, if not always, especially when I’m playing hockey with people I don’t know. I can’t help but think about how they perceive me, a brown-skinned man, playing a sport that is filled with predominately White athletes (at least here in the United States and with what we see in the NHL). If my friends and I are playing hockey on our old basketball court, I don’t feel like I’m going to be judged if I’m wearing my Pakistani cricket jersey or my Egypt and Turkey soccer shirts. I don’t worry about it because I’m playing with my friends — people I know. But when it comes to going on this new hockey court, I feel that if I wear a jersey that says “Pakistan” on it, people will be gunning for me or treating me in a rude way.

Maybe I’m thinking and assuming way too much, right? Wrong. Yesterday, before I went to the new hockey court, I swapped my red Egypt soccer jersey for a red Nautica t-shirt. I figured, “I don’t want to deal with people giving me smack about my shirt saying ‘Egypt’ or making some stupid racial slur or whatever.” I got to the court, laced up, and said “hi” and “what’s up” and “how’s it going, man” to all of the people there. Everyone was friendly, conversational, and pretty much just wanted to have fun. So far so good, I thought.

Since there were so many people, we played with line changes, and I think I played at least six shifts the entire day. I ended up doing really well too and scored four goals. When everyone packed up to leave, my friends and I said “good game” to everyone and that was the end of that. Fun day, right? Well, today, my friends and I played at the court again and a friend of mine told me, “Oh man, I have to tell you something. When you scored your second or third goal yesterday, this kid on the bench said, “f****** spic!” My friend said he was going to say something, but before he could, someone shouted at him and said, “yo, watch your language!” Continue reading