An American Brown Immigrant Man’s Perspective on Police and Racial Tensions

I wonder if it’s even possible to speak against police brutality and racial injustice without being judged as “Woke Social Justice Warrior”? I also wonder if it is possible to honor the continuous service and sacrifices of men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty to protect and serve the citizens and provide for their families without being labeled as an ignorant, hero-worshipping, racist conservative?

Why does it have to be so hard to do both? Why does the truth have to be so subjective? I have lost precious friends over staying silent, and I am sure I will lose more friends over speaking out as well.

Being a social butterfly and working as an interpreter for the U.S Military and later on joining the U.S Marines, and now owning a private security company, I have had the privilege of meeting and making some really wonderful friends from all walks of life. These friends have had a profound impact on my outlook on life and my character.

Jason Essazay, US Marine.

I owe my current little success and status in society to my diverse group of friends, former bosses, ex-lovers, fellow brother Masons, coworkers, and my Marine brothers.

One of my former bosses during my period of employment as an interpreter with DynCorp International- Counter Narco-Terrorism Global Support, who facilitated for me to apply for the Special Immigration Visa program was a Black man from Durham, North Carolina.

Upon my arrival to the United States, my recruiter into the Marine Corps was a Black man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I remember taking the bus to the recruiting station because I had just arrived from Afghanistan and I didn’t have a car. Once my recruiter knew my situation, he would personally drive over to my apartment complex to pick me up and take me to the park and public library so I could exercise and study for the entrance exam into the Military. Before I could become a Marine, he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and currently serves as a Police Officer in a large metro area. Coincidentally his recruiter was my longtime friend, Chris Hernandez, from my period of employment as Interpreter for U.S Army in Afghanistan.

Once I was a recruit in MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) San Diego, California one of my Drill Instructors was also a Black man from the Republic of Haiti. He taught me how to be the Marine that I am today and wear my uniform with pride and confidence.

On the surface, I had nothing in common with these men. I was a Muslim immigrant from Wardak, Afghanistan. But they still cared about me and contributed to my success, because they saw my passion and drive for America and my belief in achieving the American Dream — the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspiration and goals to be achieved. I will never forget about these men, as they have helped me more than any Afghan I have ever met or have been friends with.

I also have a lot of white conservative friends who have helped me tremendously. They have hosted me at their houses. They have helped me find jobs. They have been there for me when I needed someone to talk to.

I am also very close with my Jewish friends, who knew that I am Muslim and they still open-heartedly welcomed me to stay at their home for an extended period of time until I could get my own place after finishing Marine Corps recruit training and School of Infantry.

To me this is what America is all about, I can promise you, you cannot easily find this kind of support anywhere else in the world.

What happened to George Floyd is extremely tragic. No one deserves to be treated like that, regardless of their race, or their prior criminal background — which George Floyd had a pretty colorful one. But judging all cops for the actions of few is not logical just like judging all protestors by the actions of few looters is not.

I am a brown guy with an accent who is always armed, and I have been pulled over by the police several times. I have never felt like I was treated unprofessionally because I understand that escalation or de-escalation of the situation is not just the responsibility of the police but it’s also mine.

Was I annoyed that I was pulled over? Of course, I was. Was I racially profiled? May be or maybe not, I could care less if I was or wasn’t racially profiled. What I cared about was handling the situation at hand as safely and as quickly as possible so I could go on about my day. I understand that if I am pulled over, I know who I am, I don’t have any warrants, I don’t have any prior criminal convictions, and I don’t break any laws. I also understand that the officer or deputy pulling me over has no idea who I am. I could be a cop killer. I could be a felon with outstanding warrants — so it is on me to do my part, comply with the instructions given by the police, and identify myself properly to ease the tension and avoid any unnecessary outcome.

In this day and age, it’s very easy to be manipulated by mainstream media or even social media. They both play on our anxieties to push different narratives, regardless of the consequences that we as audience face. If you are that civil rights activist who is angry at all cops I recommend you take a leap of faith and next time you see a police officer — pay for their coffee. Or just simply thank them for their service and tell them who you are and what your stance is. I promise you that the next time that officer is dealing with someone who shares your ideals, he/she will be more considerate. The same kindness applies to the police too.

Understanding is a two-way street. You cannot expect to be understood if you are not willing to understand others. We are all so stuck in our own ways so much that we do not want to change anything about ourselves. But we always expect others to change for us. Everyone wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change themselves.

Right now, more than ever is the time for Americans to come together and celebrate our similarities more than our differences — our love and compassion for each other rather than our hatred and enmity. I have some suggestions to my fellow minorities and white liberals who instigate riots and looting and politicize the tragedy. Finally, I have some suggestions for law enforcement personnel.

To my fellow minorities, the world sees you, the world hears you. Don’t let your emotions and message for a worthy cause be hijacked by a few who want you to react by violently breaking the law. Understand that in the end, only you as an individual are responsible for your success or failure. Don’t let your religious beliefs, the color of skin, or national background define you. Whoever tells you different wants to keep you as victim for their political agenda.

To white liberals who instigate looting, violent riots, and think it’s okay for minorities to violently break the law: you are a part of the problem just as much as those racist cops who marginalize and victimize minorities. Statistically speaking you come from a place of privilege. From your socio-economic status to your education, you have it better than most minorities. You will never be able to understand what it is truly like to be a minority. You can change your political views tomorrow, but we are stuck with the color of our skin, and thanks to you our new criminal record. At the end of the day, you will go back to your suburban houses, and we will be still stuck in our substandard apartments in the inner cities.

To law enforcement personnel, we understand that you have an extremely difficult job. We know that you are overworked and underpaid. We know that not all of you are racist scumbags who have chosen the profession to target minorities. We appreciate all that you do to serve and protect our communities. We urge you to remember and perform the oath you took to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States regardless of your personal beliefs or observations.

Sincerely

Jason Essazay
An American- Muslim, Marine, and a Brown Immigrant

Jason Assazay - a brown man's perspective on police and racial tension.

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Obaid

Jason Essazay is a native of Afghanistan, a Marine Infantryman, and a vetrepreneur. He moved to the US in 2014 on an SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) after spending several years working as an interpreter for the US and Coalition military all over Afghanistan. He is an avid reader, cat lover, yogi and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner - and as of 2018, a US citizen. He is a valued member of the Tribe, and not just because he looks like Hernandez's great-grandson, either.


Obaid has 3 posts and counting. See all posts by Obaid

4 thoughts on “An American Brown Immigrant Man’s Perspective on Police and Racial Tensions

  • July 22, 2020 at 7:55 pm
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    Great write up. You are an awesome American. Would serve with you any day.

    Reply
  • June 28, 2020 at 1:54 pm
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    Very bold of BBC to allow their website to be a forum for this message.

    Chapeau, gents.

    I once had a roommate (in a six-pack in SWA) with a similar story. He was conscripted by the Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan in ’79. Two years later he defected and joined the Muj. Before the Soviets gave up and went home, his father was granted asylum in the US and my buddy went with him. By 2001 he’d earned US citizenship and after 9/11 he went back to Afghanistan as a guide and interpreter for SF. And he continued doing contract work for the SpecWar community thereafter. I’ve never met anyone who was a more patriotic American than this self-proclaimed “Shiite Taliban.” I sincerely believe that if he were walking down the street and heard some random person say something derogatory about America, he’d stop and offer him opportunity to recant before kicking his ass.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2020 at 7:15 am
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    Required reading.

    Welcome aboard the USS United States, Jason. You’ve earned it more than most these days.

    Reply
  • June 13, 2020 at 5:50 pm
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    A fine write up. Damn fine.

    I am personally of the opinion that people, generally, fall into two big categories. The first have never done anything and fail to understand nuance due to this. The second have done and seen things, sometimes great things sometimes awful things. These people ask big questions.

    It’s not so much the questions themselves that are asked but the mindset that produces the questions. Such a person looks at everything with a different eye. In today’s world these people are pretty rare, especially in the West. Maybe it’s Jiu Jitsu (as the author and myself practice), military service, travel, living arrangements, prior family life or mentoring. Regardless of the reason(s), such a person doesn’t tend to look at the world through the lens of ego nearly as much as the first group I mention. In putting aside the self, as much as those of us not living the life-Monastic can, they tend to be more willing to admit that not everything is “black and white” which is just code for “the way I want things vs. the way I don’t want things and I’m fucking important dammit!”.

    Reply

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