They Will Never Accept You?
By Omar Afra
“They’ll never accept you” is what my scrappy Uncle Farouk used to repeat so often as he wagged his fingers at me whenever I brought friends of the Anglo persuasion home to hang out after school. He shared this fear with so many other first generation immigrants after having stomached his fair share of intolerance once moving to this country.
Despite loving this country and moving mountains to make it his new home, people made him feel as if he didn’t belong. I had not thought about his repeating that phrase like a mantra to me until recently.
Funny story. During the build out days preceding FPSF, I tied a flag to my golf cart as I always do because it makes me easy to find and frankly, I enjoy being a clown. This year, I decided to zip-tie a Palestinian flag to the cart as opposed to the usual Lebanese flag to honor the place of my birth. I chose a Palestinian flag to show solidarity with the plight of Gazans. It’s also just a dope looking flag. I don’t really vibe on nationalism of any kind, but flags are fun. Sometimes.
On the second day of the festival, I was cruising down a cart lane which sat between two fences: On my left was the festival grounds, and on my right the fence which folks walked past as they headed to the entry gates. Zipping down the lane at max speed (11mph) to pick up a friend from the entrance, a sudden flutter of red, white, and blue flew like a javelin past my face. I barely had time to inch my neck back just enough so this projectile didn’t hit me.
Once it landed with a big KLANG, I looked down and saw an American flag strung up on a lacrosse stick. A dude bro had climbed up the fence and waited for the moment to launch the flag at my head as I passed by. People in carts behind me yelled and tried to point the culprit out but he had disappeared into the throng of festival goers. Instantly I thought of Uncle Farouk.
I still think he is wrong but I guess I get it. What’s really hard to articulate though is the complex relationship Americans like me have with this country. But one thing is for sure: I like apple pie. My wife makes a killer chocolate pecan pie. I can name almost all members of the original Skynyrd lineup. I drive places I can easily walk to. All those things are pretty American, I think?
And to the person that lobbed this flag at me, you can have this flag back if you come to our office and ask for it politely. Just promise not to throw it on the ground again.