Forever. An immigrant. And I’m only 27. And Trump just got elected.
As a disclaimer: please don’t hit hard on me, as this is my first story, and I’m just trying to share a feeling I had for a while now.
Forever. An immigrant. And I’m only 27.
So, I ask myself where do I belong?
As a young boy from Montreal, I would learn early on what it would mean to grow up in a “diverse” society. But not necessarily in a good way.
Let me start. My parents were both Jewish immigrants from the North African region. My father is from Casablanca, Morocco and my mother is from Melilla, Spain (but the city is in Morocco). My father only spoke French when he landed in Canada, and my mother only spoke Spanish. But somehow, they made it work, and adopted French as their main language. But of course, that would be the cause of discrimination as well.
Montreal is the perfect example of an international city dwelling in the middle of a never-ending language war between the Francophones and Anglophones. Closed-minded Francophones are by far more racist than Anglophones, as they are already facing high-pressure from the Anglophones to lose what they call “their land” — Quebec.
But that’s just the beginning of my story.
So, I grew up attending a public French high school, and would constantly feel pressure from other students concerning my religion — I was Jewish in a mostly-Catholic school, and my language — I spoke with a French accent from France (as Morocco has been a French Colony). I would often hear things like: “so, Eric, is it true that every Jew comes from Jewland?” or “what happens if you eat pork, do you die instantly?” and don’t get me started about the Hitler-related jokes, or racist thoughts I had to be part of. For this reason, my best friends were mostly immigrants’ sons: Cambodians, African, Italian, Greek, Armenian and so on. I’ve learned that immigrants stick together. But somehow, in the later years of high school, I was able to make it through the “top” of this small-white-French-uninformed societal ladder, by abandoning parts of my soul — my values, and completely changing who I was; losing my immigrant friends in the process. Then, when it came to graduate, I left the French system (literally thought to myself “fuck off, you Frenchies”), and decided to challenge myself by attending an English college (or CEGEP as they call them in the Province of Quebec).
Before I begin sharing what it was like in the English world, it is important to note another part of my story: Jewish summer camps. Without extending too much on that, my parents decided it was a good idea to send me to a Jewish summer camp, so I could meet other Jewish teens. But even there, I was perceived as outcast; a “Frenchie” with no private Jewish school education, who attended an all-public French school in Montreal’s city of cultural clash. I was meant to be different. It felt like I did not belong there as well.
I began my collegial studies in the biggest English-speaking college (CEGEP) of Montreal, situated in the downtown borough. It was a new world to me. And I tried to hang out with English speaking Jews over there, but it came to little success. The Jewish community was even more closed-off than I thought. So, my best friends were (and remain) a few French-speaking Jews who accepted my differences, and some Italians (because I had style). Although at that point, I had figured out that I fit best in the English world, and decided to continue on this path, improving upon my English, and distancing myself from French speakers. And with this, I attended Concordia University and McGill University consecutively, but never really made friends with white-born Canadians, as my differences remained clear: I was French to them.
Continuing on this path, I’ve left Montreal 1.5 years ago, heading to Vancouver to start my MBA studies at UBC, and to no surprise, the same was common. White Anglo-Saxon students from all provinces of Canada formed a group and did not invite me in. I was from Canada. But I was different: I was French. But I didn’t feel French. And I wanted to avoid everything French. Although, I was French to them. So, I made friends with the good people from India, South America, Korea, Mexico and other immigrants. Once again, it was clear there was a divide. So, I left to California for my last semester of the MBA.
In California, I thought things would be different. But again, the same happened. All-White Americans — who had just elected Trump — showed that there is no mixing with differences. And although they are neutral to my kind, they showed no appreciations for my differences in including me, or my international peers. The only person who invited us for “beers and a good time” was Mexican himself, and another student who tried to include me in some of the public activities was of Brazilian-blood.
Here I am now, in California. Wondering if this election was dishonest. Wondering if I am meant to be an immigrant forever. Or where I belong. Have you guys ever felt this way. Or is it just me?