Many know that for the most part of 2021 I was living in Medellin, Colombia.

Back then I had already, probably, had Covid at the Caribbean coast ( story time for another day).

It was my, probably, second time and it took a pretty  bad course, so I really did not wanna have it again.

“I really don’t wanna go back to Germany “, I thought to myself, but also knew that I couldn´t get vaccinated in Colombia as a non-citizen. The country already had too few doses for its own population. So I did what most privileged Latinos did – I went to Miami.

Everyone was telling me that it was easy to get and that you could get the one-dose johnson & johnson vaccine at the airport.

So in August 21, right after some of my responsibilities in Medellin cleared up, I decided to travel and make a first stop in Miami to get vaccinated. There were two things at that time that I received as learnings:

1 – another level of privilege I had, to be able to just fly somewhere else where I could get something that protects me from tragedy…something my working class Colombian friends couldn’t do. They had to wait months for their turn to receive only the first dose of the vaccine – so no full protection yet – and wait another month at least, because of lack of doses, to get the second, which meant that based on the numbers back then, they would probably get Covid before.

Over the course of months of traveling, these systemic differences in the world were making me increasingly angry, fueled me with intention to speak up more, and make these realities visible.

But they also showed me, that even if in Europe, as Arab Diaspora and Queer Muslim, even with intense trauma on my shoulders and a lineage burdened with pain in my back, I was still just so priviledged.

2- The other thing was, just the interesting difference in how different communities view the same places. When thinking of the US in Berlin, I think of New York, of San Francisco, Chicago…and in Latin America it was always Miami and New York.

I understand that it is probably because of the access to it, Miami is very much the Spanish Speaking HotSpot and little Cuba, but still very interesting.

Here I was,

I had taken courses in a high-ranking Colombian University, was studying Biotechnology, spoke American English, spoke 4 languages had a German passport and was in touch with these cultures….after the last pretty racist interaction with US border security 2 years prior to that, I thought I was equipped enough now to get a friendly/neutral treatment.

I hoped to not be a potential terrorist anymore.

That hope was cute I guess….

I arrived at the airport and was about to get to the official to check my documents.

I was surrounded by families from all over Latin America, I remember being so happy that I fit in so well and felt reassured, was sure that racism was not that probable anymore and after 40 mins of waiting, it was my turn to pass security.

The lady saw me and immediately spoke to me in Spanish.

After 8 months in Colombia I was confident and I knew that in that little small talk I could pass for a Colombian. In a way, I thought that might secure a good interaction but I thought wrong.

When I gave her my passport she was hit by the first little wave of confusion seeing a European passport. She opened it – second wave – it was a German passport. She checks my name – third wave – an Arabic Name.

Her face became serious, confused and almost angry.

“What is your country!?”, she asked me.

“Germany, it’s a German passport” I replied.

And from there on she started a 20 min interrogation, often repeating the same questions,

Subtle accusations were enhanced by speaked in front of all these families.

“Why don’t you have a German accent “ …well Berlin, International melting pot….

“Why do you have this Name?”….well Lebanese Mother

“What did your Mom do in Germany?” , “How did your parents meet? “ , “What is your mothers ideology?”, “Why do you speak Colombian?” , “Why did you study Biotechnology’” , “What were you doing in Colombia”….

…Well civil war, mother fled, West Germany , I don´t think she has an “ideology” …learned in university…

„What is your country!?“

„Ma´am it´s still Germany, you´re holding the passport…“.

I was trying not to seem defensive while I felt humiliated.

She repeated questions waiting for a different answer and asked me 4 times…”WHAT IS YOUR COUNTRY”.

I thought by becoming more cultured I would become more than just an Arab – a potential terrorist, the way it worked in Europe where classism is connected to culture but in the US I had transformed myself from a potential terrorist to a potential Spy.

She actually thought I was a spy!

And while I passed this situation the anger never passed.

(more about the Miami experiences soon..)