Dialogue: Two Sides of the Same Coin

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To me one of the best parts of this trip so far has been getting to make new friends with Moroccan kids our age and spend time in their city and culture with them. We have one new Moroccan friend named Souad who studied at the University of Texas for two years. Over impromptu coffee and crepes the other day, we somehow got to the topic of racism, with a classmate of mine explaining to us about how racism can occur even between African Americans simply based on the lightness/darkness of their skin. So then, trying to be casual, I asked Souad about skin color in Morocco, they have everything from southern European looking skin and hair to sub-Saharan dark. So I thought that since the color-range was wide, Morocco must have similar judgments depending on the lightness or darkness of each other’s skin.

I was taken aback (in hindsight to no-one’s surprise) when Souad shook her head.

“No, there’s no… segregation or different treatment based on the color of your skin here. The first time I ever encountered anything like that was in America.”

She then turned to answer another question, which gave me time to turn to my classmate closest to me and say,

“I guess it’s a trade-off, right? No segregation of race, but total segregation of gender. You win some and you lose some.”

She nodded. “Yeah I find that every culture I visit has their ‘you do that so well’ and their ‘why do you do that?’ sides.

The conversation moved on to favorite bands and sillier subjects, but that night the short exchange with Souad about racial segregation was still turning itself over in the back of my mind like a puzzle. I had always seen the flaws in American culture, and we are taught from a young age to see the flaws of other cultures. But to sit there and lay out two problems plaguing two different societies was a new thing for me. I felt like I was placing them on a weighing scale, trying to see which was the lesser of two evils, but they remained unmoving and perfectly balanced. I didn’t know what to do with that information.

balanced_scales

I’ve thought about it some more now, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that they are two sides of the same coin, just like how Islam and Christianity are two sides to the same coin. Different, like a head and a tail, but made out of the same material. Personally I’d like to keep the religious coin and throw the segregation coin into a ditch where no culture can find it, but they are not so different from one another that one is better or worse than the other.

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