I’ve made Dearborn Heights my home for the past 24 years when we moved here my youngest was only two years old. We sent all four of our children to Crestwood Schools and all four graduated from them. My name for those who don’t know it is Kathy Abdel-Hak I’m German, Swedish and American Indian. The man I’ve shared the better part of my life with is Lebanese yes an Arab. Why am I saying all of this? We live here guys we send our kids to school here in this City. We are in your neighborhoods we pay our taxes, we go to work every day yet at a town hall meeting right here in the City I call home racial slurs were cast on those of Arab decent. One of those persons that something was said about was Councilman Abdallah another man who as a taxpaying resident got up to speak was told to go back to Dearborn. I may not be Arab, but I’ve had enough of watching and hearing none Arabs in this City beat up my family. Yes, my family for every time one of Dearborn Heights residents tells them to go back home or says something negative. You are talking about my kids and that I will not stay quiet about anymore.
Yes, Arabs have come to Dearborn Heights and have been for some time now. The Arab-Americans have brought with them restaurants, vegetable markets, bakeries, pizza shops and more. There are doctor offices, pharmacies, who do you think owns Biggby coffee or the new Tim Hortons on Ford Road? Arab-Americans. There isn’t one group of people that isn’t without its flaws and the Arab-American community isn’t any different. Yet it doesn’t matter how hard they try they just never can seem to get accepted. I thought after all this time maybe just maybe there would be a change. Maybe having a council member that was Arab-American on the City Council some of those angry and negative thoughts would be put to rest. After all, Councilman Abdallah has done nothing, but a thoughtful job since becoming our Councilman. I see now that this isn’t so and that saddens me.
What angers me is this, while at that town hall meeting on the on 2-27-2017 Mayor Dan Paletko who has enjoyed the Arab-American money for years. Mayor Dan Paletko who has watched his City get transformed by Arab-American business owners. Mayor Dan Paletko who has watched the tax base rise higher and higher didn’t say one word to condemn those comments. At the Council meeting on 2-28-2017 when Councilman Abdallah talked about what was said about him and to others at the Town Hall meeting the Mayor that has enjoyed all of what the Arab-American community has to give him sat silent. Our Wayne county commissioner had nothing to say about what was said at the town hall meeting either. Not at the town hall itself and not at the City Council meeting where she spoke for half an hour.
In June it will be 25 years that I call this City home and yet I feel less and less that it is my home. I feel my children aren’t truly welcome here. I see now that the Mayor doesn’t represent all of his residents. he only represents those Arab-American residents when they pay for the Ramadan dinner he throws every year. He represents them when they give him money to run his campaigns, but he won’t stand tall and stand up and say NO that isn’t right. No, I condemn that kind of talk. Well, Mr. Mayor how long do we have to live here to afford your voice? To my fellow residents those who are telling the Arab-Americans who call Dearborn Heights home to leave. When will you welcome them? How long do they have to live in your neighborhoods before you will say nice to have you here?
Believe it or not those of Arab decent put their pants on just like you, they have car payments, insurance payments, they have a home mortgage, they have to buy groceries. They celebrate their births, anniversary, graduations, and accomplishments just like you. Just like you, they mourn their loved ones when they are lost, they have feelings and yes they can have their feelings hurt. They worry about the City they live in they want clean water, and better streets, they want strong police and fire departments. They want to live in a thriving City and most of all they want to live in peace and I would dare say would like to feel welcomed.
I know the majority of the residents who are none Arab in the City of Dearborn Heights are good hard-working people. Who have kind generous hearts who don’t hate just for the sake of hating? I understand that, but these days when it’s so easy to bash an Arab I would hope that the person in charge of this City would make sure that a tone was set. That person who is our Mayor would stand up and say NO not in Dearborn Heights we don’t want the Arab Bashing here. Well, maybe someday we will have that it’s just not now.
I thank you for allowing me to vent I don’t write this to those of you who have been coming here for so long. Nor do I think any of you have these feelings towards Arab Americans. I just needed to write how I’m feeling thank you for listening. I ask you please no negative comments I think I’ve seen enough on social media and heard enough on the television over the past 18 months to last me a lifetime.
To Councilman Wassim “Dave” Abdallah I’m sorry you had to hear those things if no one said it.