The qualitative narrative methodology known as auto ethnography was utilized for this article. According to Dyson (2007), auto ethnographic script connects the individual within the society in which the investigation, or experience, takes place. Raab (2013, p. 1) indicated that this method "utilizes autobiographical writing in that it examines the personal experience of the researcher and participants". Mendez (2013), further corroborated auto ethnography to be a significant qualitative research tool, employed to analyze people's lives.
The following sections discuss the auto ethnographic experiences of a person who is a friend known to the authors. The narrative highlights several instances of how a person of color, brown in this case, was discriminated on various grounds in a so-called first world country. The indicative case-example included in this narrative article has been identified to emphasize the discriminatory practices adopted in a developed country of the so-called civilized world. The case study is a first-hand experience and is presented in the following section.
Yes, I am brown and a proud Muslim by birth, born in a country once colonized through British rule. Is this how you see me? I am a hard-working, sincere, civilized, well-educated person with vast and diverse experience, tri-lingual, well presented, mannered, courteous and respectful to diversity and inclusion. Why is this not how the world should acknowledge me? Why would this world discriminate against me, and all who look like me? Will this ever stop? I have experienced discrimination many a times in my life and am sharing a few of my experiences here. Since, I am embarrassed and fearful of being asked to leave my second home, I do not wish to disclose my name.
I left my country and am a temporary resident of a Western country. This country (I prefer not to name it) is my second home. As a legal visa holder, I live in this country, and have also visited seven to eight other countries, applying for visas while in my second home. I enjoy the peace and no threat here, but the feeling that I get discriminated against is so torturous that I feel helpless. Is there anyone out there who can help me? I am afraid none!
The discriminatory attitude and behaviors are consistent; I experience them in different forms and situations. The most recent one is about the travel ban and exemption. I visited my old and sick parents back in my home country, in the last quarter of 2019. My second home banned travel in April 2020, and it was only now that the travel ban had been lifted. Yes, lifted for citizens and permanent residents, and not for the temporary residents. If the temporary residents, like me leave my second home I won’t be allowed to enter back without an approved entry exemption. Why? Oh yes, because temporary residents are discriminated. Yet again, why? We respect and follow the rules, pay our rent and bills, pay our overseas health cover, earn and spend and pay taxes in our second home. We are the ones, who are away from our families and suffered here in isolation during 2020 and 2021. Our sufferings are not over yet, just because we are not the citizens/permanent residents!
Another time when I felt discriminated against was when I lost work in early 2020. This was the time when the citizens/permanent residents were offered different types of government support. Such a nice gesture to help those who lost work/businesses seized/could not work due to lockdowns. What about those who were not lucky enough to be in that category? I am talking about temporary visa holders like me, including a sizeable number of expat students. We were very kindly allowed to leave the country if we were unable to survive. We were not eligible for any government and/ all sorts of possible support out there, heartbreaking! Miraculously, when the government support was announced in the mid-2021, temporary residents were finally privileged to be eligible for applying for this support. We are extremely grateful to our second home that it cared for us this time.
Yet, another instance of discrimination experienced by me was, when I had to make a presentation at workplace amongst other Caucasian colleagues. Because I was brown skinned and English was not my first language, the audience who comprised of all white colleagues expressed a sense of disregard and indifference towards me, out of sheer ‘White Supremacy’ even before I started my presentation. However, given that being a good speaker with excellent public speaking skills, it was one of my best presentations that I had ever made, after my presentation I could see the change of attitude in people’s faces towards me. Albeit my presentation was well received I felt how people were in denial of my good presentation skills due to my skin color and English being not my native language. This experience has left a long-lasting impact in my mind and has had a negative influence on my social and interpersonal communication and relation skills.
Another time when I felt discriminated was not in my second home, but when my friend and I planned a study visit to yet another advanced country. Their country of origin and religion were distinct from mine, and we both looked very different. We applied for a visa for another country and went to its Consulate in person, to submit our applications on the same day. All our supporting documents related to our educational institute, hotel bookings, travel itinerary, the details around education institute we planned to visit, were the same for both of us. After fifteen days, my friend and prospective co-traveler got the visa, and I was asked to provide the Consulate with additional documents and details. This was weird. I provided them with what they required, yet they asked me again to provide some more information and I did. They also asked us to attach our confirmed hotel bookings with the visa application that we luckily had. When I initially applied for the visa, I was very excited, though this discriminatory treatment by the Consulate snatched that excitement away from me and my friend. My friend was not going to travel either, if I was refused visa. Anyway, they were very kind to grant me the visa finally, enabling us to travel, which we did.
The story did not end here. We had a stopover for a connecting flight at another international airport. We were walking towards the international arrival immigration counter, and excited to see this new airport when I saw my name written on a placard along with a few other names. The airport staff was yelling for these people to come out and stand on a side. Once again, I was discriminated! I along with a few others was escorted by the airport staff to the immigration section in a separate queue. Our documents were checked and again, we were escorted to the waiting room. Hats off to my dear friend who stayed near me and only by the eye-contact, my friend communicated to me that they were with me, and I am not alone. How nice of them! How embarrassing it was for me, to be treated and discriminated this way!
Three years back, I applied for a visa to visit a yet another country and they refused me a visa, stating that they feared I won’t leave their country once I reach there. This was so disrespectful. I had never even thought of entering any country in an illegal manner, ever in my life. I had no such plans and had never in the past brought through my actions any embarrassment to my home/second home. Despite, all this I was not allowed to enter that country.
These are only few of the incidents of discrimination I have experienced personally in my life. I tried to get permanent residence in my second home but failed and was now living on different types of visas and have had to renew them every few years. One day of course, I will be no longer more eligible for any other visa type and will be compelled to leave my second home and going back to my country of origin. After all these experiences, I feel that’s where I want to be! My people will treat me with more respect than I deserve. No matter how good my value system and conduct are, my second home does not own me, saying that I do not deserve living here, and I deserve to go back to my own country. I wish this world would have not discriminate against me on the bases of my skin color and origin!
The critical reflections derived from this case study narrative are provided as follows:
In the current article, it was examined how one person’s experiences of discrimination were detrimental to their own mental and physical health. It is further appalling that the discrimination attitudes were experienced in a first world developed country. Today, when there is a lot of emphasis on human rights and respect and dignity for every person irrespective of caste, creed, religion, ethnicity, and sex, it is denigrating that such discriminatory practices do exist. The current narrative provides the groundwork for more people to come forward and share their discriminatory experiences and to create awareness amongst people to make this world a better place to live in.
Dyson, M. (2007). My story in a profession of stories: Auto ethnography - an empowering methodology for educators. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 32(1), 36-48.
Mendez, M. (2013). Autoethnography as a research method: Advantages, limitations and criticisms. Colomb . Appl. Linguist. J, 15(2).
Raab, D. (2013). Transpersonal approaches to Autoethnographic research and writing. The Qualitative Report, 18(42), 1-18.