â€œHere we are, Palestinians, in a town where you have to chew tobacco and they take you to the rodeo so you can try to ride a bull.Â It was funâ€¦the people were nice,â€ said Fawas â€œTonyâ€ Ismail of Mesquite, Tex., the town he immigrated to from Palestine almost half a century ago in a video for washingtonpost.com.
The video and others like it are featured in onBeing, the Washington Postâ€™s video feature series produced by Jennifer Crandall. These one-voice videos highlight the individual stories of â€œall sorts of peopleâ€ speaking candidly about all sorts of things.Â The latest compilation in the series is called â€œonBeing the American Flag.â€ This is where Tonyâ€™s story takes the stage.
Tony lived out the American Dream by selling what inspired him: flags. Tony recalled flying to America for the first time and being struck by the American flag he saw at the airport gates. Then, as a junior in college, when Tony needed to make some extra money for his upcoming wedding, he began selling flags from countries all over the world out of his Volkswagen bus. After 40 years in America, he now owns one of the largest flag companies in the country.
Tonyâ€™s life in the U.S. hasnâ€™t been all peace and success, however. In the video, Tony details an incident involving a man who harassed his daughter while she was selling flags at Union Station.
â€œHe asked her if she was Muslimâ€¦she said yesâ€¦he punched her in the faceâ€¦We have to move on but thatâ€™s the first case of discrimination weâ€™ve ever experienced in, this year will be 40 years in the United States,â€ he said.
OnBeing is a vehicle for personal stories like Tonyâ€™s to candidly inform and inspire viewers. Though serious in tone, the storytelling is animated and personal, and encourages users to comment.
Despite the hardships of being an immigrant, Tony said, â€œEveryone comes here for an opportunity.Â Itâ€™s wonderful to own one of the largest flag companies in the United Statesâ€¦as an Arab American.Â It just keeps you smiling all the time.â€