I must interrupt my story here, since we have a visitor. Imane, a beloved guest, has arrived from Jackson, Mississippi. She is a Fulbright student scholar at Jackson State University, a historically black college in a ghetto of a run-down city-town. She’s one of the only Arabs there.
Last year, she was my student at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh. Imane was assigned to me as a thesis student. She, like her four colleagues, had to write a paper to graduate from the University. The five of us formed a little research group and we worked together, meeting each week at a hanout (little shop) with plastic tables and chairs outside. Together, we went over the topics of the papers (the “Moroccan Sahara vs. the Western Sahara,” “Jews in Marrakesh,” and “Amazijh Women as Creators of Culture.”)
Imane’s paper was on “Racial Profiling in America.”
That turned out to be relevant. Now she’s here, living out her findings.
Mohammed has a ladder installed along his spine, to keep his vertebrae straight. “It sets off the airport security every time,” he said to me awhile ago. “And there’s nothing like being a brown guy to set them off anyway. I always have to get to the airport hours early.”
A few days after Imane arrived at our house, she received a package addressed to her (Arabic name) from her friend (Arabic name). It was already opened. “Hmm,” I remarked to the mailman. “Funny how they slit it right open.”
The mailman shrugged. “Already like that,” he said.
Imane is here in Seattle for the month. Here’s a picture of her up on Hurricane Ridge, taken yesterday. She’s never been in the snow before.
And, there she is– on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. From Marrakesh to Seattle. From a little hanout next to the salmon-red wall of the university to the green and white of the Olympic Mountains.