By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — An incident at Bliss Professional Center, 24418 Michigan Ave., involving a Yemeni customer has led to a bigger conversation about anti-Yemeni discrimination in Dearborn.
Shayma Ghaleb led a “Standing with our Yemeni Community” virtual panel Sept. 10 to promote change and put an end to anti-Yemeni discrimination in Dearborn.
According to her post about the panel, the purpose was to discuss the Bliss incident and go beyond that to address the issues Yemenis face in the community.
Moderated by Rima Fadlallah, the panel included Amerai Saidi, Maali Luqman, Shayma Ghaleb, Issa Ghaleb, Senan Saleh, and Abdulgalil Ahmed.
The panel included an introduction with the mission and panelists; testimonials from the panelists and anonymous submissions followed by a panel Q&A and then next steps.
Shayma Ghaleb has an Instagram page where her profile description welcomes those to send a personal anonymous anti-Yemeni discrimination sentiment through a link.
On Aug. 31, she posted about the incident at Bliss.
“A Yemeni girl was there and had just finished getting her treatment done. The owner was on the speaker screaming to the receptionist, “why the f**k are you booking Yemenis, I told you not to f**king book anymore Yemenis.”
The post continues to say that calls were made to the owner and her explanation was, “Yemeni girls are too dark and it takes an hour and a half to do the treatment and that overlaps appointments and she can’t have that for her business.”
Shayma Ghaleb’s post alleges that the owner never denied what she said, but instead said it was a misunderstanding. Also, the Instagram post claims the owner called the customer who heard her and told her she better shut it down and that people keep calling her.
On Sept. 4, the Bliss Professional Center page posted an apology on Instagram.
“I want to express how deeply sorry I am for the pain I have caused in our community and especially for my Yemeni sisters and brothers. I am ashamed of what I said and the pain it caused.
“My actions and words were inexcusable and there is no doubt about that. My actions perpetuated a stereotype rooted in racial bias and sincerely apologize. I am making a promise to myself and the community to take steps to rectify my behavior. This has been an eye opening experience and I will forever regret the pain I caused. With my family’s immigrant journey, I should have known and done better.
“These were not the values I was raised with. I’ve disappointed my family, my friends, and the greater Arab American community. I vow this will never happen again and to take steps to ensure everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)