Having lived in upstate New York for the past two years, racial discrimination has become the center of my life. Back in Kuwait, the discrimination I faced as a stateless individual was harsh, but different. In the US, I’m either discriminated against for looking like a Latina, meaning “an immigrant who is taking THEIR jobs,” or as an Arab and Muslim, meaning a potential terrorist or a victimized brown woman who escaped hell.
In Kuwait, legal procedures were my nightmare, but I faced stereotypes, rejections, and police harassment. I’ve written before about the legal and everyday discrimination that a stateless person faces in Kuwait, so my aim here is to focus on my recent experiences in New York.
For the first part of my residency as a student here, I tried to escape the labels imposed upon me. However, after several incidents of discrimination in public places, sometimes by police, I felt I was forced into those labels. Here, I am not stateless or Kuwaiti or just an Arab Muslim. Most importantly, I am an immigrant woman of color. This is the reality for me, and I can only negotiate within this frame. Accepting this reality has helped me see through tensions around me.