Home » Culture & society

Do you speak English?

Written By: aaminahm on April 2, 2009 5 Comments

Today Usree and I traveled together from San Francisco to Columbus, OH. We had a three hour stop over in Minneapolis, which turned out to be unforgettable for all of the wrong reasons. First of all it was obvious that we  stood out. We were the only women of color and my Islamic headscarf was particularly noticeable.  She and I experienced rudeness from people when we asked for help and directions.

Prior to entering the plane I saw her, the flight attendant. A blond woman with a bouffant hairdo, fifty-something, and apparently pleasant to all of the other passengers who entered. “Welcome aboard” she offered as each one in the line passed her by. But when she saw us, her demeanor changed. She maneuvered towards us gruffly. Before we could step foot on the flight she said, “you can’t bring those bags in here. Put them back out with all of the other bags with orange tags.” She ordered. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said brushing her off as I turned to follow her directions. When we returned she seemed irritated by our presence.

Once I sat down I witnessed this attendant as she spoke to the other individuals, “make sure your seat belt is securely fastened, keep your seat back and table in the full upright and locked position until the pilot turns off the fasten seat belt sign.” She intoned. When she arrived at my seat she leaned over and said “Is this your assigned seat?” “Yes it is.” I said as I motioned toward my ticket to prove that I was in the right place. “Do you speak English?” she asked loudly. “Do you?” I asked sarcastically.  She wasn’t satisfied with two responses in English so she said “Nooo, dooo, youuu?” As if she were speaking slowly because I didn’t understand her. I glared at her and refused to answer her. It was obvious that I spoke English. The man behind me burst into laughter.

Then she proceeded to tell me that she was only asking me if I spoke English because I was sitting in the emergency row and she planned to give the safety instructions in English. She needed to make sure I could understand her. I rolled my eyes and said “Yeah, whatever.” Now, as she pointed to the safety instructions I noticed that these were in large pictorials so I didn’t even have to know how to read words on paper in any language to save my life and the life of others. In fact, the more pertinent question was, do you have a strong enough back to help load people onto the wing if we go down? Or do you give a damn? Because the answer to both of these would have been, “I do”. And I speak for all of the individuals who have been othered by the eye rolling, teeth sucking flight attendants of the world when I say “You may speak English, but you don’t speak humanity.”

Tags: , ,

Digg this!Add to del.icio.us!Stumble this!Add to Techorati!Share on Facebook!Seed Newsvine!Reddit!

5 Responses to “Do you speak English?”

  1. Usree Bhattacharya on: 2 April 2009 at 8:02 pm

    A wise man once posted something relevant:

  2. Youki on: 2 April 2009 at 9:00 pm

    bleh, what a lame experience. Hopefully your trip back is better!

  3. Your girl, Stacey on: 3 April 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I must say,you did a wonderful job of displaying your humanity by not…I’ll keep it civil!

    Please don’t let it go, we all must be responsible for our words and actions. Too many of us make excuses for why we do the foul things we do. We live in a global society, if we don’t begin to face our issues, they will never be resolved.

  4. Aaminah on: 7 April 2009 at 9:46 am

    I filed a complaint against Northwest/Delta Airlines with the Council on American Islamic Relations today. They are going to contact Delta on my behalf. Delta has not responded to the electronic complaint I filed with them on April 2, 2009/

  5. Usree Bhattacharya on: 7 April 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Good luck, Aaminah! Keep me posted.

Leave a Reply:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  Copyright ©2009 Found in Translation, All rights reserved.| Powered by WordPress| WPElegance2Col theme by Techblissonline.com