POV Shorts: The Spectrum of Divide

Two perspectives on how shared beliefs connect and divide.

AIRED: October 26, 2020 | 0:25:05




-Next on "POV Shorts," meet the Natours...

-Jimmy, good morning.

Morning, Greg. Morning, Marcia.

-...a Palestinian family in Appomattox, Virginia,

makers of an American dream,keepers of the immigrant spirit.

And then an animated short from StoryCorps.

"POV Shorts: The Spectrum of Divide."


[ Birds chirping ]



[ Door unlocks ]


-Our situation, being Muslims, Arabs,

in -- in Appomattox...

[ Door unlocks ]

...we just here to run a store...

[ Electricity humming ]

[ Door chimes ] -Good morning!

-Good morning.

We wait on customers...

-Keep going, G. Don't work too hard.

-Thank you. -Alright, see you.

-You, too!

-Have a good one. -Alright, G.

-Respect everybody, and that's it.

-Good morning. How you doing?

-Fine, and you -- how you doing, G?

-Timmy, good morning. Cigarettes?

-Yes, sir.

-Morning, Greg. -Morning, G.

-Good morning, Charles. -How you doin'?

-Morning, Marsha. -Hi, Thomas.

You goin' fishing?

-Goin' fishing. -Alright.

-Good morning, Herbie. How are you?

-Joanne! -Joanne!

-Otis! -What's up, Mrs. G?

-Oh, my God. How you doin'? How are you?

-I'm doing alright.

-We know everybody in town. -Yes.

-I mean, we don't have any grudges against any of 'em,

and none of 'em have grudges against us.

They like us.

-Politics, especially when we came,

like, really a long time ago, it wasn't that big of a deal.

It's different now maybe.

[ Birds chirping ]


-I think Islam hates us.

There's a level of hatred within a certain community --

in this case, the Muslim community.

We have to look at the Muslims, and we have to do something.

We cannot stand by and be the stupid people

while our country is destroyed.


[ Engine rumbling ]

-I have a motto that

do not talk about politicsor religion with your customers.

If you do, you lose them.

-I just always liked coming here.

They got a good personality,

and you don't mind dealing with people

that don't have a good personality.


Thank you, Dianne! -You're welcome.

-[ Chuckles ]

Got good personality...

Well, I didn't think people would think that way.

-Why not?

-I don't know. It's Appomattox.



-Appomattox is beautiful.

-Everybody knows everybody.

-In Between Lynchburg and Richmond.

-Ain't much to do around here.

-A little redneck -- whole lotta redneck.

-Appomattox is mainly known for the end of the Civil War,

where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.

The War of Northern Aggression.[ Chuckling ] I'm just joking...

I won't say that... -No, that's...

-You got me!

[ Laughter ]



-See your face. Alright. Alright, look at me.

1, 2, and 3.

-This town -- it's a historic junction.

There are a lot of visitors come into this town.

-Do people ever ask you where you're from?

Did Dad ever tell you where he and Mom are from?

[ Cash register drawer opens ]

-No, but I know they from another country.

I do know that. [ Laughs ]


-I was born and raised in Qalansawa in Palestine.

In 1948, Palestine was occupied by Israel.


The only jobs for us was laborers at Jewish settlements,

and I couldn't do that.

So I decided to become a farmer and got enough money

to buy a ticket to the United States.


-They have no respect for human life...


...and I don't want them in our country.


-It's dripping.

I decided I want to have my own business.

My brother was already established

in the business in Virginia,

so I asked him to help me, and he did,

and I established my own business

as Natours Grocery.

-The first time I remember going into Natours

was in August of 1987.

It is 30 years later,

and I'm still a loyal customer.

Oooh, let me get an 8-piece to go.

-Just chicken only? -Yes ma'am.

-How are you today?

-I am doing good. -Good.

-Ever since 9/11, a lot of people --

they're scared to be around somebody from the Middle East.

My work colleagues -- they was like,

"Put 'em on the boat or put 'em on the plane

and send 'em all back to where they come from,"

and all of that type of talk.

But I judge people by how they treat me as a individual.

Oh, yeah.

-[ Laughs ] So many people busted.

[ Both laugh ] [ Coins clinking ]

-I've never heard anybody call them

Arab or Muslim or anything.

-I have a feeling people just don't know.

-Well, like, that's probably true.

I don't go to the mosque all the time,

and, you know, I'm not very, very religious,

and that's my choice.

I didn't wear scarf when I was back home,

so nothing changed for me.


I grew up with 10 brothers and sisters.

My parents are farmers.

After schools, we always go back to work in the farm.

After I graduated from high school,

I work in a socks factory.

I tried to take some few classes at college.

I couldn't finish because I couldn't afford it.


We always learn about America in our schools,

and we always watch the movies.

In my opinion, it was the people who went to the moon.


[ Up-tempo music plays ]

-Glad y'all came out

for the Appomattox Railroad Festival.

You're going to have a big time today and tomorrow.

[ Horn honks, siren wailing ]

-Was that a culture shock for you to come here?

-Yes, absolutely.

[ Engine revving in distance ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]

What I have problem with isthe way a lot of people in here,

they don't cook, so there is not a lot of fruit and vegetables

was available the way I used to, but I adapt.

Mix it up really good in the flours

because has the salt and the spices and all the good things.

The more it sit in the spices, the better it is.

-And what's the spices?

-It's a secret. I can't tell you.

[ Chuckles ]

[ Sizzling ]

Your dad, when he start coming to work

and I start staying alone at home, doing nothing.

I was just bored.

[ Clinks lightly ]

[ Sizzling ]

So I start walking to the store,

just try to help him whatever it is,

from stocking or filling up the coolers

or doing anything.


And then, when I had my kids,

I used to bring them in here,

and they will play in the walker or the bassinet,

and the customers will talk to them.


-All our kids were playing with their kids,

doing the things their kids is doing,

and I try as much as I can to fit in

because I live here now.

[ Door clicks shut ] There you go.


[ Birds chirping ]

-Okay, now I have to go put on jewelry and things.

-[ Speaking native language ]

-[ Conversing in native language ]

-What's wrong with me?

-What is that? What is that?

-Bracelet or no bracelet?


-[ Laughs ] -I'm wearing --

Okay, you know what? Never mind.

I don't know what y'all think is so funny.

-[ Chuckles ]

-So you want me to look like a hoochie mama?

Because I gladly will.


-We're gonna take pictures now?


-[ Singing in native language ]

-[ Speaking native language ]

[ Claps hands, laughing ]

[ Woman singing in native language ]



-I wanted to go back home from the same culture

and get married.

I was introduced to Sabah by her sister.

-He's educated and come from really good family.

-She was very nice, pretty, and smiling.

-Then we have the huge weddings and everything.


After literally like a week, came to America.


-Send them back to the dustbin they come from

and let them go sit on a camel.

-Every Muslim is a terrorist. -Go home! No Shari'a!

-Go to that sandbox you call home!

-[ Singing in native language ]

-[ Laughs ]

[ Both laugh ] -I still don't!

-Yeah. -[ Laughs ]


-Did I?

-Isn't it? -[ Laughs ]


-And I probably couldn't say nothing in your language.

-Yes, yes. Try to say, "Marhaba!"

-I can't even do that! [ Both laugh ]

-Jack -- he was one of the few people who knew me

when I didn't speak English at all.

I just -- I liked him so much.

-Thank you, Jack! -Thank you!

[ Indistinct conversations ]

-Well, I'm Jack Wayne Burks.

I've been a farmer. I've been a machinist.

I've been a telephone lineman.

[ Cows grunting ]

They got big bellies like mine. [ Chuckles ]

[ Birds chirping ]

I worry about my country.

I'm seeing how the Democrats --

they're ruining the economy, open borders.

I think that Trump was predestined to be President

in this United States.

He's a super billionaire,

and he is getting the United States

rolling again.

-I'm curious because you are very friendly with my family.

So what about when there's a lot of Republican talk

about anti-immigrants, anti-Muslims, anti-Arabs?

-Well, you know...

...I like everybody.

I have a good time with everybody.

I don't -- I don't look at nothing

except the person I'm talking to.

But I don't think that I'd want a Shari'a law.

I don't think that --

I don't think I could live under nothing like that.

[ Engine rumbling ]

I don't know what the agenda is...

...for the Muslims.


-[ Singing in native language ]




-[ Speaking indistinctly ] -[ Chuckles ]

Hey, would you like to try my dessert?

I made them -- it's like a Mediterranean dessert.

This is baklava -- it's made with layered pastries

and nuts and spices. -Okay.

-And this is made out of cream wheat.


-So, I start to bring in desserts.

-That's good right there! You want to try it?

-It was kind of like building bridges

between us and the customers... [ Laughter ]

-Oh, my God. You want to go home with me?

[ Laughter ]

-Thank you.


We are so blessed. We are very, very happy.

We never experience any hateful comments

or any hatefuls things, even after 9/11.


-Actually, we got some compassions letters.

-...other Muslim friends --

we -- we don't know

of any harm feelings towards them from Americans.

-I did -- Oh, they did -- they did, plenty of people,

the ones I know from Lynchburg -- they did.

When they go to the supermarkets and stuff like that.

-I don't know. I didn't know that, so...

-Yeah, they did.

[ Birds chirping ]

-If you're not happy in the U.S.,

if you're complaining all the time,

very simply, you can leave -- you can leave right now.

-A Virginia church is echoing that sentiment

with this billboard that says, "America: love it or leave it."

-Pastor E.W. Lucas put up the sign

at Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox.

Some members of his church

led the congregation out of the service

in a stance against him.

-Welly, Welly, did you read the front page?

-Trump did this -- Trump. -[ Laughs ]

-I don't like it. -Why?

-I just don't like that.

-I came of age during Vietnam,

and that "love it or leave it" was,

you know, against protesters,

against, you know, basically anybody.

I never understood then what it meant.


-You going to church Sunday? -Going over there.

-To do what? -Just to --

Just to support that preacher.

-To support the preacher?

-That's right. -Why? Why?

Isn't the church supposed to love everybody?

-Because his congregation abandoned him and walked out.

[ Birds chirping ]

-The Bible inspiredthe Declaration of Independence.

We got our system of government from the Bible.

Don't talk to me about that flag out yonder

or that sign out yonder.

This is our country!

And it was our country

long before they ever came across the waters

and got over here!

[ Piano plays "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)" ]

♪ My country, 'tis of thee

♪ Sweet land of liberty

♪ Of thee I sing

♪ Land where my fathers died

♪ Land of the pilgrims' pride

♪ From ev'ry mountainside

♪ Let freedom ring!

-Back home, usually women all the time gather togethers,

and each one of them has a plate, and they roll it,

so they make it like a social event.

You know, it's really fun --

we'll sit around with, you know,

like, with bunch of my other sisters.

They talk. They laugh.

They gossip.

They roll the dawali.


-But do you ever imagine what your life would have been like

if you'd stayed, back home?

-Oh, yeah, I had that question so many times --

so many times...

and I never regret coming in here.



We get a lot of better things in return.

There is no other country in the world

is better than America.

It's land of the dream, and it is -- I'm one of them.



-[ Chuckles ]

It's -- It's --

The opportunity I got in here

and everything I work hard for, I got it.


This is one of my goals and my dreams.

Because of hard work, we made it happen.


It was so much hard --

it's very hard -- coming in here.

It was -- I paid a huge price,

very huge price.


[ Voice breaking ] I left my family,

left my brothers, my sisters, my friends...

[ Crying ]

...and I came here...


[ Sniffles ]

...but it's worth it.


-Sorry, Mommy. -[ Crying ]

[ Sniffles, sighs ]


-Do you consider yourself American?

-Yes, we do. We have pickup trucks.

We have lawn mowers. We have tractors.

[ Engine sputtering ] -Right.

[ Sputtering stops ]

-We do what the Americans do.

-I agree. Absolutely.

Except we still do different food.

-Yeah, everybody cooks their own favorite foods.

-Okay. Thank you.

[ Engine rumbling ]

-Great. Let's go cook steaks.


-[ Singing in native language ]


-Gonna do it really tight.

-[ Singing in native language ]

-[ Laughs ]

Okay, come on.
















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