Dont Stereotype, Bro

Stereotypes do exist. In fact, some are interesting but more often than not, they expose the ignorance that exists within an individual. For amusement, lets examine a few stereotypes and put them to the “true or false” test. Do you agree or disagree with the following stereotypes?

1) Lets start off with an easy one. Chinese/Japanese folks cant drive. True or false? I don’t know. Although when I looked into the stereotype, I noticed in the city of Toronto, insurance companies give a higher quote to potential customers in areas that are predominately “Asian” (which is the politically correct word for Chinese). I attempted to contact a few different insurance companies in order to get a better explanation but for the most part, I got no solid answers. Although, one of the representatives for an insurance company responded to my inquiry as to why Chinese neighbourhoods pay higher for car insurance than any other neighbourhood in the city, he said, “more accidence are likely to occur in such neighbourhoods”. Boy, talk about being stereotypical. Maybe facts do speak for themselves but all I know is, when I watched “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift”, not once did it cross my mind that Japanese/Chinese people cant drive. In fact, if they can drift then they don’t need car insurance 🙂

2) Older Somali men are losers.True or false? Well, my father is an “older Somali man” and I don’t think he’s a loser. Well, on second thought, I don’t think my father would place himself in the “older Somali men” category to begin with. He’s 46 with a strong physical body and a mind that can process information three times the speed I could. Which reminds me, last summer he called to inform me of his intentions to marry a 26 year old women and I was like, “(damn) papa, you got to be joking me right?” He responded with, “son, I’m living in my prime” and I was like, “yes, you are papa”  🙂 . But this notion that older Somali men spend way too much time at Tim Hortons, gossiping about useless information while restiring emotions of tribal tension through debates that existed and divided the Somali communities, is unfair in my mind. Yes, its true, that some (ok fine, many) Somali men spend their wealth chewing khatt,  prefer hanging with their friends than their families and forget to invest in the lives of their children but lets cut them some slake. On second thought, I remember doing monthly collection for the masjid for the past several years and I cant tell you on how many occasions I would knock on the door of a Somali household and when the door was answered, I noticed the woman was preoccupied with the children, cleaning the house, while the “older Somali man” sat on the couch and criticized her for doing a “poor job”. What nerve he has and even more, why doesn’t he get off his lazy behind and follow the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) who use to assist his wives with the house chores? What makes him too proud to help his wife around the house when the best of the creation use to do it willingly?  And to make matters worse, I would encounter a man who would answer the door and tell me, “sorry, we don’t have anything to spare this month, maybe next month”, I would be like, “inshAllah” and smile as I walked away. I didn’t understand why such a man felt a need to explain his situation to me unless of course he was hiding something? Or maybe he felt guilty for lying to me?  Hmmmmm…after all, the money wasn’t for me but in reality, I was encouraging him to donate to the masjid for the benefit of his worldly life and the next. The funny thing about the whole situation is how on so many occasions, Allah would expose the same man who told me, “sorry, I don’t have anything, maybe next month”  and you wouldn’t believe where I would see him? In a lineup at Coffee Time with his boys *shakes head*. But don’t get me wrong, neither of the examples I provided above are sufficient to be used to justify the stereotype but it only leaves some unanswered questions regarding older Somali men. In the end, I think they have a lot of work to do in becoming better fathers, not to mention, the percentage of Somali youth that are dropping out of high school is growing with each year and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed. More needs to be done to narrow the gap between the generation of our fathers and the next generation of leaders.

3) Women talk a lot. True or false? *be careful homeboy, this is a sensitive subject and most of your readers are women. I know, but its cool. I’ll try to provide support for both sides* As I was saying, is such a stereotype true or false? Well personally, I cant support one claim or another but I do think this stereotype exists and its an interesting one. I remember one brother that I highly respect had invited me to accompany him to Tim Hortons so we can catch up. This brother was a little older then myself (maybe in his late 20s or early 30s while Im 24) so we sat down and I remembered he had recently gone back home to get married so I asked him about the experience. On a side note, this brother really praises the women in our Motherland and he would often encourage me along with some other brothers, to take a trip back home and find our wives there, but it is what it is and only Allah knows best. Back to the topic, I was sitting with the brother and mashAllah he is amazing. This brother is so connected to the masjid and has an easy going personality. Most of the brothers  I know have taken him as a big-brother type of adviser so when he speaks, we tend to listen. While were seated and drinking our hot beverage, he said, “I married a quiet women from back home. I never heard her raise her voice in any situation and her character impressed me the most about her”. I grew more interested in his story so I cleared my mind and started to focus on his every word. He continued, “so when I married her, alhamdulilah I did, I noticed the quiet, soft spoken woman that I had married transformed into a woman who had lots to say. She talked and talked and I actually enjoyed hearing her tell me about her life before she met me. I was just trying to build my bond with my new wife so I listened and cared about what she had to say, until one night, I was laying beside her and she started to tell me a story about “such and such”. I became interested in the story and I wanted to know the facts but she kept on mixing her opinions with emotions until I had fallen asleep. The next morning when I woke up, I went up to her and I said, “baby, so how did the story end…?” and she said, “you fell asleep on me…”. I didn’t want to tell her that I fell asleep because she was taking too long in telling me the story or that she was talking too much so I asked her to forgive me and later during the day, she retold the whole story to me”.As I listened to the brother, I tried to abstract some lessons from his story but before I could say anything, he said to me, “I think women talk a lot but that’s what makes them unique. They talk and we like to listen but if only they could keep to the facts of the story then we would be fine.”.

4) Young couples that get married, just find themselves divorced.True or false? Now this stereotype is one for the ages. Let me begin by saying, its true that a lot of young people have gotten married in the past 4-5 years and perhaps 50% are now divorced. Those are the facts but lets take a closer look as to WHY this occurs. For one, lack of patience with one another. Both members of the marriage need to come to the realization that problems will find you and you better learn how to deal with them. Its not rocket science or anything, all its takes is respect and mercy for one another and marriage life wont be so mad. Secondly, a common understanding between the couple is vital to the success of the relationship and what better common understanding can there be then, Islam? The beautiful thing about Islam is, both the wife and the husband have rights and obligations. So learn your rights and fulfill your obligations and inshAllah everything will work out for the best and if not, be patient with the results (easier said than done but may Allah be with you). Lastly, marriage is a LONG term commitment and not just a “I’m feeling good today so do you want to get married” type of relationship. The purpose of marriage is to help each other in becoming better people, more fulfilling servants to Allah and to assist one another in the long journey to meet Allah. Thats marriage but unfortunately, many young people have yet to understand the purpose behind marriage and until they do, the numbers of those getting divorce will continue to rise. And Allah knows best.



5 Responses

  1. I know, sterotyping just sucks.

    “But this notion that older Somali men spend way too much time at Tim Hortons, gossiping about useless information while restiring emotions of tribal tension through debates that existed and divided the Somali communities, is unfair in my mind. Yes, its true, that some (ok fine, many) Somali men spend their wealth chewing khatt, prefer hanging with their friends than their families and forget to invest in the lives of their children but lets cut them some slake”

    This reminds me of an incident. I was browing in a mall when an old Somali lady came up to me and commanded me to take her to food basics! :S Anywho, since she was older than my mom’s age i said yes.
    So as i drove to food basics we passed by timmy’s and the lady yelled out ” Look, there is the Somali men’s daycare!” In Somali ofcourse. lol

    I couldn’t help but to laugh at what was reality.

    For all my sisters out there. May Allah swt protect us from such men. And may He swt guide us all to the right path. Ameen

  2. And to all my brothers out there, may Allah protect us from such women *cough* I mean, from becoming such men.

  3. I didn’t know how rampant that first stereotype was, I heard it from different people few times. But I just thought they were being ignorant, not to mention paranoid. I remember back in the days when I was learning to drive someone had advised me about Asians on the road. I thought the person was just being rude. I remember he said don’t ever drive behind Asians and cab drivers on the road. Kulahaa Asians can’t really see and the cab drivers are all about getting a fare… so they will automactically hit the brakes if they see someone calling for a cab. I can understand about the cabbies, but the Asians…I still don’t get.

    As for the second stereotype, I don’t agree with it. I might have thought of these men as losers in my younger days, but I’d like to think I’ve matured since then, and I don’t hold the same views. My father is also an older Somali man, and I know for a fact this stereotype doesn’t apply to him and many of his friends. My father is a very hard working man, he works 7 days a week and even though me and my brothers now work, he still refuses to cut back on the amount of time he works. He says he will continue to grind and work as long as he can…and that whatever we earn is for us to keep and pay for our schooling. When he’s off from work he is either going to the masjid or at home listening to his quran/Cumar Faruq tafsir, or teaching my sisters Quran. However, very seldomly he might go to meet up with a friend (usually a friend that’s visiting from another city) at a coffee shop to catch up. Now imagine one of us (younger gen.) catches a glimpse of them sitting at the coffee shop and think, agh, look at these stupid men wasting their life away sitting at a donut shop…losers! How fair is that? Most of the older Somali men I know are hard working people. Anyways, I for one would like to see someone interview one of the men who frequent these coffee shops and bring us back an unbiased report. They must feel inadequate because they can’t support their family the way they would like to, I mean let’s face it, Canada is not really a land of opportunity for immigrant workers. Some of these so called loser men are probably highly qualified professionals in some fields and just never get the opportunity to find suitable work. So, instead of sulking away at home, let them have a venue to come together with their fellow men and vent.

  4. Salamu Alaikum
    I know stereotype #2 doesn’t apply to every Somali man….but this problem is rampant in our community and ultimately the mother and children suffer. And even tought Canada may not be the land of opportunities, Allah subhannah wa ta’ala , is the most just and gives everyone that which he /she has worked for and deserves. It’s all about tying your camel and having tawakul in Allah.

  5. Assalam alaikum

    The purpose of this post was to recognize stereotypes as a mental state that exists in our society. I definitely don’t believe that every older Somalia man is “lame” or “lazy” because that’s obviously not the case. Rather, there are stories where our Somali women often times raise the children all on the lonely while their husbands fade off into society. The numbers of those fathers who lack to help our women out in raising the next generation might be a minority but I think it’s an issue that we should talk about and inshAllah address.

    Maryam, your father sounds like a great man. MashAllah may Allah use him as a positive example for our younger brothers.

    Bint AQ, how were your exams? InshAllah they went well.
    About tying the camel, I heard a man ask, “what if a man ties his camel and places his trust in Allah but forget to return to reclaim his camel?” Would that’s be a problem? For example, making dou’aa and starting an effort to accomplish whatever it is that you seek from Allah but half way through, you abandon your efforts and decide to give up?

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