September 11, 2001

"I am an American," she said proudly

 ... I asked quite frankly if she had been harassed ...

by the SilverStringers

The United States census for year 2000 tells us that we have 10,982 households in our city of Melrose, with a total population of 27,134. And while the census breaks us down by larger groups of race, there are only 372 folks who are only identified as "Some other race".

I spoke to one of that group a few weeks ago.

She was an attractive lady I met in a bank, only four days after the Towers tragedy. I couldn't help but notice her accent, although she had complete command of English. It turns out she speaks four languages.

Our business lasted a few minutes, and since no other customers were waiting, I asked her where her home was, originally.

"I am an American!" she said, with very proud emphasis.

"So am I," I replied, and we both smiled. She was of Moroccan descent, and had spent most of her years (I guessed at 38) there, and in France.

I asked her quite frankly if she or her family had been harassed during the past four days. She was attractive, had a tanned complexion, deep brown eyes and lovely, wavy light brown hair.

"No, not at all," she said. "But people do mistake us for middle-easterners. The fact is that most Americans have little idea of what terrorism is like -- in Europe, one has to live with it every day." She told me that someone blew up a shopping mall once, in Morocco, and that police had stopped their car, handcuffed the two couples, and took them for questioning.

"I don't know why the police stopped us," she said, "but it (terrorism and/or being stopped by the police) is not uncommon. Morocco has a very large Jewish population," she added, as if that were a possible reason.

"Actually it is quite hard to get a visa for Morocco," she said, "especially if you are from the Middle East. The authorities are very afraid of terrorism."

She had spent some years in Paris, studying, and said that even there, in the city of light, people are always afraid of terrorists -- terrorists from Europe, the Middle East, Africa. She came to America to continue her studies in science, had married another native of Morocco, and had lived in Melrose four years.   

So far the family has suffered no indignities, nor have any of her friends. We parted friends, richer for the association.

October 5, 2001


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