Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'm just an Arab American, living in a post-9/11 world.

This past week, during the Boston Marathon bombing and following chase of suspects, I received a threatening and racially insensitive message on twitter from one of America's more ignorant. I don't have the original message-I deleted it in disgust and horror when I opened it on Friday morning-but it was something along the lines of "pls go back where you came from, america doesnt need any more of ur muslim scum, f*** allah." Honestly, I'm surprised they said please.
Growing up half-Lebanese in a post 9/11 America has been less than pleasant. Even though I am Catholic, was born and raised in New Jersey, and am half white, I have received rude comments from classmates and strangers, been patted down/searched at the airport and been the butt of terrorists jokes more often than I would like. Last week during the Boston bombings, before they identified a suspect, I spent a lot of time internally stressing out about the search, and thought to myself countless times “Please, don’t let them be Arab/Muslim”. When the first picture of the suspects was released and their ethnicity was unknown (they could pass for white), I was visibly more relaxed. I slept better that night, thinking that my race would be spared from the demonization America loves to heap on us, at least for this. When I woke up on Friday morning (to the above tweet), and the subjects identity had been identified and a race assigned, I spent the rest of the day with my stomach in knots, constantly checking my phone for updates, running to the tv whenever I went home to check the news. Since Friday I've felt uneasy, worried about where the next hateful comment will come from.
“Jogging while Arab” has become the new “driving while black”, and it makes living in America difficult and terrifying at times-and I’m not even Muslim. I can only imagine what it must be like to grow up as someone of full arab descent with islam as religion in a country that openly expresses hatred and disgust for those things. I imagine that it is similar to the fear that African American’s felt (and continue to feel) during the earlier periods of the CRM. The only difference is that then it was accepted as normal and at least now it is labeled as a ‘hate crime’. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accused of terrorism or fear I’m going to be pushed into the tracks of a subway, just because I have arab features and olive skin. America is ignorant and racist, and one of the first steps in overcoming that is admitting to it. Many American’s claim that they aren’t racist-but if you’ve just pushed your fears from one group to another, does that really make you less racist? What do you think about arab/muslim being America's next target? Do you think this is a civil rights issue?


  1. I find it quite interesting how Americans have made the belief that all terrorists are Muslims. This is just another example of how we stereotype groups based on a few people. With you being Muslim looking, but Catholic it makes an interesting situation as it highlights the fact that people base their beliefs of the color of your skin. With myself being white I will never understand the fear you must feel in your everyday life. I say this because there are people like you said that try to put you down verbally, but there are others that would wish to harm you.

    Myself being from New England grew up in a relatively racial free area and never witnessed anyone being discriminated against based on his or her skin color. After this bombing however it is a completely different case. I have heard stories back home of groups vandalizing Mosques after this incident. This area that was originally a “safe environment” is now under constant watch for people of Muslim decent.

  2. Alexandra, I felt the exact same way when they were searching for the bombers. I also kept thinking, "Please, don't let them be Muslims." Although I am white and non religious, I was tired of my Muslim friends/peers being tormented and called terrorist. I recall one of my Muslim friends telling me that after 9/11 she took off her hijab for fear of being called a terrorist. It is extremely upsetting that America can describe itself as an accepting, free land and yet a young woman cannot express her beliefs for fear that she will be harassed.

    I believe it is a civil rights issue. Many Americans refuse to learn about Islam and its beliefs and will therefore remain ignorant on the topic. Too many people believe that Muslims have launched a war agaisnt America. What they don't realize is that the Muslims they are calling terrorists are extremists. Just like within Christianity, extremist are a minority of the religious population and their actions tend to be overshadowed by the million of moderates practicing their religion. Events like 9/11 and the Boston maraton bombing should not be discussed as an us (Americans) vs them (muslims) since a majority of the Muslim population in the US cannot relate the extremists.