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Tasneem Ahmed
Dr. Elizabeth Hudson
Honors 1000
10/12/16
A Crowded Walkway
Pig-tails, high cheek-bones and oblique eyes (Dominian 7) is what many white citizens
thought about turks like me. When I arrived in Detroit, Michigan in the Americas with my wife
and daughter, all people thought about me were those features. The year of my arrival was 1908
and I was just getting settled into my home with my wife, Airin Osman, and my seven-yearold daughter Roza Osman. Other immigrants around us were trying to get any home in the
area, but I wanted to get the most sanitary home for my family. I would also begin working at the
Ford Motor plant soon. Everything was going as I planned, however, I saw police officers
inspecting the newly arrived immigrants. I thought I was safe, since I had documentation of my
immigration, but a police officer grabbed me and pulled me out of the house. Airin saw me start
yelling at the officer and rushed downstairs to help me. I was released, because the police officer
saw me as someone who was just working at the factory until the day of his death. This gave me
new perspectives on people of different ethnicities and assimilation into American culture or the
American dream. Even if my family and I are discouraged from settling in a community where
physical features determine who or what someone is, as Turkish Muslims, we will overcome
those struggles and prove that we wont lose our culture or history.
During the spring of that year, my daughter started going to school. She told me there
werent many white boys after a weeks of settling into the house. I nodded and left the house to
go pray, which usually happens in the morning and evening. As a proud Muslim, I started to

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bond with Muslims from other ethnicities, such as Armenian and Hungarian1. As a sat down
praying towards Allah(PBUH), I wondered if moving to this country would be a blessing or not.
As a result, I began to notice a new perspective on how people saw me and how I saw them.
Physical characteristics, such as wealth, hygiene and skin color were valuable assets in Detroit.
My expectations for a developed society would be spiritual characteristics, such as diversity,
culture, and creativity are considered valuable. People praying around me seemed to realize there
are many races sitting together at a religious gathering, yet no one will speak about their own
history or culture. Afterwards, I walked to my work station at the Ford Motor plant and
attempted to talk to another Turkish immigrant. I said Hi, my name is Fairuz Osman, have you
ever been to the mosque approximately 2 miles from here? He said no, Im Jewish. I tried
talking to him more, but he simply didnt want to talk about who he was. This confirmed my
thoughts about why I was here. As I left my workplace for the day, I realized that most of the
buildings in Detroit werent mainly built for holding art, but rather for holding workers, illegal or
not illegal immigrant. From the brief conversations I had with other people, I was able to
understand the how other immigrants valued culture compared to myself.
In 1915, my daughter was attempting to become a female activist by becoming more
politically and socially involved in the community. Her day was very different than mine, but she
did tell me interesting facts that I could discuss with my expanding group of peers. Such as a
man named Jacob Berlinsky, in Detroit, who was raising money to help sick people living in
unsanitary conditions in Jerusalem3. This man was supposedly working to stop issues created by
the government. At the time, colonization was occurring between European and Asian countries,
which resulted in the political conflict. Workers in the factory understood unsanitary conditions
fairly well, since the ford manual stated not to live or work in unsafe conditions for the entire

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family5. We looked at this issues, not only as ways to educate ourselves, but as ways to educate
others about ourselves. Henry Ford saw as nothing but mindless robots who werent capable of
being creative, however, we were able to assimilate to the mindset of the American dream
without losing our culture. This was the goal I had when I moved to this Detroit.
As 1921 approaches, I hear about more current events concerning the Muslim
community, which discuss with my family during breakfast and dinner. I heard about an old
event while I was playing cards at the coffee house1. There was a girl who was separated from
her family of illegal immigrants. The uncle lost his motivation to stay in the United States, so he
went elsewhere2. This story reminded me of my first week settling into Detroit. I reflected on this
issue by stating that I would pay more attention to the way immigrants are shaping the
community than how they were seen a decade ago. Many of the people agreed with me, since
this was the first time that I publicly reflected on the issue of immigrants losing their cultural
history, because of racial tensions. After I was entertained for an hour, I went back to the house
and asked myself if I changed my perspective on how I assimilated to the American culture. As I
walked down the same streets, intersections, and walkways as I did in any weather, I realized that
I have changed. I am now able to tolerate other races and their cultural beliefs. Previously, I took
strong offense to any criticism about my culture or history, but now I have a less strict form of
nationalism. This includes people saying words like Mohammaden Immigrants or Tatars,
instead of Anatolian or Turkish immigrants4. As a result, I express identity and creativity, among
people rather than productivity and precision, which is what my daughter emphasizes whenever
we talk about something.
During the mid-1920s, I retired from the Ford Motor plant. My daughter promised she
would get a job to support me and Airin, because she was grateful that we brought her to Detroit.

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I sat in the comfort of my house with my wife and we would talk about all the fun times we had.
Most of them were back in Turkey or Anatolia, but I am glad that we had moved to Detroit and
created a community. This community serves as the reason I had served my purpose in America.
I had given Turks and other Muslims alike a better identity. This identity unified us as Muslims
in the community rather than making us a uniform working-class of unskilled workers. Overall, I
was able to spread my culture within an environment where we were not welcomed by white
people. I did gain new perspectives on the city of Detroit as well as assimilate to the new
lifestyle. Many of my Turkish peers have given up staying in America, but I plan to live in the
city of Detroit for as long as I can.

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Citations
Bali, Rifat. From Anatolia to the New World. International Journal of Turkish Studies,
Vol. 12, No. 1 &2. 2006. University of Wisconsin. p53-69. Article
Trachoma Bars Turkish Orphan From United States.. Gannett Co. Feb. 19, 1907.
Detroit. p12. Article
Blames Turkish rule for disease Gannett Co. Nov. 14, 1914. Detroit. p6. Article
Dominian, Leon. THE PEOPLES OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL ASIATIC
TURKEY. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society of New York. Detroit Free
Press.1915. p832-877. Article
Helpful Hints and Advice to Employees. Ford Motor Company. 1915. Detroit. Print