Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wait one cotton pickin' minute!

Cotton Field in Uzbekistan

A little old Russian lady stopped me on the street (Location: Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn) to ask me if I was Uzbek. I stopped and chatted with her, delighted by her three gold teeth. She told me that Uzbeks were the best at cooking and at housekeeping. No one else in the world like them. Uzbekistan should never have become independent because all they have are good cooks and pakhta -- cotton.

Quite an opinionated little crumpled lady! What did I do? I just smiled and nodded... "Oh, how interesting..." Wondering why this sadistic little lady called me over. Did she need a cook or something? Note to self: Dress up a little more...

Is racism so deep against Uzbeks? I have met many newly immigrated Uzbeks in Brooklyn and I see that people with PhD's from Moscow in Pharmacy are now homecare help for elderly Russian families. So fascinating... how do they cope with the racism? I'm very curious about these dynamics.

Well... after some more of this sidewalk Soviet-Colonial nostalgia, her granddaughter came to fetch her from the beach chair she was sitting in (surrounded by the counsel of powder puff lil old ladies). Turned out that her granddaughter was a former student of mine at XYZ College. The friendly little old lady suddenly turned absolutely indignant that her granddaughter was being sweetly adoring of me. Then bewildered when granddaughter called me professor. (Yes, imagine that I didn't live up to my potential of picking cotton and cooking for you slave master!)

Yes, fuzzy-haired gold-toothed granny, despite my youthful good looks I teach adult kids! And I adore them too.

She was a meanie. I had better babushkas growing up in Sheepshead Bay. They gave me candy and said "Yaxshi!" Who are these newfangled grannies!

Next time I get stopped, I'm coming straight out and telling them I'm descendant of Basmachi.

That may do the trick. Actually forget that -- I'm just going to say Afghanistan and that usually ends all conversations with racists of all kinds (or start screaming matches ha!).

Not to paint Uzbeks as saints of first-time conversations. I met an Uzbek woman at the Dunkin Donuts and she asked me two questions in the first five minutes of greetings (such a big no-no in any culture). 1) Do you have a greencard? 2) Are you married?
Then she went onto state that she had a greencard and was married and in fact, had a little boy. She forgot to mention that she had a gold canine.

I want to adopt this woman as my grannie (bu'eh), she looks Afghan Uzbek (just like me):

I'll love her for her gold teeth and her floral scarves.


KZBlog said...

I am always amazed at how racist some people from the CIS can be. Even Kazakhs think Uzbeks are stupid and good as cooks, drivers and construction workers.

Talibonita said...

Hey thanks for the support! I feel much better today after celebrating nowruz with some amazing Uzbek feminists/intellectuals/activists. Nice counter balance to my miserable little racist experience.

Do Kazakhs celebrate Nowruz as well? And it is good to hear from you my friend!

Anonymous said...

Racism seems to just never end, it has existed for a long time but only due to mere understanding and acceptance of each other as humans have we drifted slowly but steadily from such an act. Thank again, people are still racist. After leaving Afghanistan who knew people in the West would still have such racist and prodigious feelings towards their own Afghan kind. Time will only tell when racism amongst Afghans will finally end.
As for Kazaks, there are Muslim Kazaks and non-Muslims, the Muslims if they have ancestors from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which some do, celebrate nowrooz.

Talibonita said...

Oh racism among Afghans is sad. I have beautiful stories of a time when such things didn't exist. Unfortunately, the easiest way to keep Afghanistan from peace is to fuel the internal race/ethnic/linguistic issues. I even heard a group beginning to use the term Afghanistani rather than Afghan because they believed Afghans was just reserved for Pashtuns. I think its important to continually say Afghan rather than Afghanistani, its too close to Pakistani and it takes away the power of being called Afghans. More on that soon! Thank you for your response.

KZBlog said...

We do celebrate Nowruz but we spell it Nauryz. This year in Astana wasn't a great celebration because it was still snowy and cold. But not too bad. Best celebrations happen in the south apparently, where they play kokpar and other traditional sports.

Welcome back to blogging, hope you keep posting.

Talibonita said...

KZ I missed your blog! And I did update my link to it. Thanks for the support! I just did a guest blog at:

Long link -- but it is worth the read hehe if I do say so myself! I plan on being here more. There is a Silk Road exhibit at Museum of Natural History. I'll be reporting on that! :)

Afifa said...

Aw and her adorable smile. Reminds me of my grandma..