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Product DetailsMoustafa Bayoumi was born in Zürich, Switzerland, and raised in Canada. He earned his Ph.D. At Columbia University and also is Professor that English in ~ Brooklyn College, the City university of brand-new York. That is the author of This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the war on Terror, i beg your pardon was chosen as a finest Book that 2015 by The gradual magazine and awarded the Arab American book Award because that Non-Fiction. That edited Midnight top top the Mavi Marmara: the strike on the Gaza freedom Flotilla and How It adjusted the food of the Israel/Palestine Conflict and is co-editor the The Edward said Reader. Just how Does It feel To be a Problem? winner an American book Award and the Arab American book Award because that Non-Fiction. Bayoumi is additionally a regular contributor come The Guardian, and his creating has appeared in The Nation, The brand-new York times Magazine, new York Magazine, The National, CNN.com, The London testimonial of Books, The Chronicle of higher Education, and many other publications. That is the receiver of 2 excellence in teaching awards, a 2011 society and accomplishment Award indigenous the Network the Arab American Professionals, and also a 2016 Pathmaker to tranquility Award native the organization Brooklyn for Peace. In 2015, he to be awarded the honorary degree of medical professional of Humane letters by southern Vermont College. He resides in Brooklyn, brand-new York.
Table that ContentsHow go It feeling To be A Problem? Preface
Reading team Guide
INTRODUCTIONJust over a century ago, W.E.B. Du Bois posed a provocative concern in his classic The Souls of black color Folk: “How walk it feel to be a problem?” Now, Moustafa Bayoumi asks the same question around a brand-new “problem” in the joined States—and depends on 7 young Arab americans to provide the answer.
America has an unfortunate history of singling out large groups the people and also branding castle as, quite literally, personae non gratae. The scourge of slavery, abuse of indigenous Americans, and also the internment of Japanese american during people War II are simply a couple of instances in i m sorry racism and cultural biases were accepted by fellow citizens and, in some cases, even sanctioned by the government. In exactly how Does It feel to be a Problem?, Bayoumi introduces us to a selection of young men and women that have uncovered themselves part of the newest suspect class in the unified States, a team that—following the 2001 terror attacks and also the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—went from simply invisible come being related to with suspicion and even proactively pursued. Centered in Brooklyn, brand-new York, exactly how Does It feel to it is in a Problem? provides a glimpse right into the often-ignored struggles a group of twenty-something Arab americans face—from distinguish in schools and workplaces come the fear of being arrested and thrown in jail without having actually committed a crime. But much more than a catalog of mistreatment and also discrimination, their stories room filled with hope, drive, and also the search of a much better life. The is their striving and also perseverance the might, eventually, assist our country repair the damages it has actually inflicted on this young people and their families. Together it has with the other teams that have actually been viewed as an inconvenience to the united States, time will ease tensions. Eventually, Arabs and also Muslim Americans will certainly be regarded as simply that: Americans. And also not merely a difficulty that should be tolerated, obliterated, or solved.
ABOUT MOUSTAFA BAYOUMI
Moustafa Bayoumi was born in Zürich, Switzerland, and raised in Canada. The earned his Ph.D. In ~ Columbia University and is an combine professor the English in ~ Brooklyn College, the City university of brand-new York. That is coeditor of The Edward stated Reader, and his essays have showed up in The ideal Music composing 2006, The Nation, The London evaluation of Books, The town Voice, and also other publications. He resides in Brooklyn, brand-new York.
A CONVERSATION with MOUSTAFA BAYOUMI
Q. Have you preserved in contact with the young world you interviewed? can you update us on just how they room doing?
The best component about writing this publication has been obtaining to recognize the seven civilization in mine book, and I still store in touch v them as much as possible. Here’s whereby they space today. After wait for so numerous years and also suffering the trauma of detention, Rasha and her household were finally granted lawful long-term residency, and she is now continuing with her studies. Sami has actually finished his contract through the marines, has almost completed his level in sporting activities management, and will quickly be spring to start his career. The no longer spends time with the Arab club on his campus. Akram did move to the joined Arab Emirates, whereby he is right now thriving. He’s already been promoted, native English teacher come supervisor, and I joke with him the he’ll soon be their very first Palestinian Minister the Education. Rami is exceptionally busy juggling several brand-new part-time jobs and also finishing his degree. The needs on him have actually increased substantially because his dad was finally deported come Jordan. Lina is life peacefully in Virginia and has simply had an additional baby. Omar gave up his dreams for a media job, but landed other full-time work with the City of new York. He had a big, splashy wedding last summer. And Yasmin, together promised, is now in law school. She has additionally started her own Facebook group: Yasmin because that President in 2032!
Q. Who was most complicated to interview? In what ways?
It’s tough to say. Each person presented various kinds of challenges. Drawing out a story native someone’s past, as I did v Yasmin because that example, to be a different experience from sharing in a story the was quiet happening, together was the instance with Rami or Omar. However if I had to choose one, it would be Rasha, whose story was plainly the most traumatic the the seven. Whenever us talked about her ordeal, I constantly made certain to have actually a girlfriend of hers adjacent to make her comfortable. She said me she story v steely determination, staring directly ahead the entire time and meeting mine eyes just to emphasize a point, while each time her friend would be in tears. That was quite intense.
Q. One fascinating part of your publication is her frank assessment of the Iraqi sanctions. It is a story that has not to be reported as frequently as that should. What carry out you think would have been a much better solution?
Sanctions that deny civilian populations straightforward food and medicine are plainly immoral. If you are going to ratify Iraq, then sanction the regime and not the people. Frozen overseas bank accounts of the leaders. Ban their travel exterior their country. Outlaw army procurements.
In all honesty, however, we have to recognize the sanctions versus autocratic regimes never work. Look in ~ Iran today. Cuba’s an even much better example. A generation-long embargo hasn’t developed a counterrevolution versus Castro. In these situations, the pain sanctions inflict is passed on come the people, and also the regimen is able to entrench its dominion through patronage and by diverting the anger of the people onto an external foe. Sanctions are many effective versus nations with prospering civil societies who feeling the global isolation. This is what occurred in southern Africa.
More fundamentally, I never would have supported Saddam Hussein in the very first place. He was, of course, a darling of the United says for plenty of years, utilizing not just chemical weapons however American-made munitions against his very own people. Franklin D. Roosevelt is report as having referred come Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza together “a son-of-a-bitch, however he’s ours son-of-a-bitch.” it is precisely this strategy that because that so lengthy has identified (and proceeds to characterize) U.S. International policy and that invites all kinds that present and also future disasters. Instead, the United claims ought come pursue policies that accomplish the legitimate aspirations of peoples around the world, when protecting essential human rights and also preserving the use of force only for once it is absolutely necessary for self-defense.
Q. Just how would this story have been different if you had actually gone come Dearborn rather of continuing to be in Brooklyn?
Dearborn is around a 3rd Arab American, so setup the publication there would have had the effect, ns think, of make the book seem an ext parochial. The would have actually felt very details to the uniqueness that Dearborn and its politics, for far better or worse, and the issues would probably have actually played out differently. By contrast, no single ethnic team dominates in Brooklyn, which is one of the wonderful things around the borough. The whole people is here, and also everyone needs to learn just how to learn how to live in close proximity the the other if we room all to succeed. That’s why i think Brooklyn represents what is come come. After ~ all, the Census Bureau estimates say that within a generation, by 2042 (revised from 2050), the nation will be majority minority, the is come say, non-white. I prefer to say the Brooklyn now is the United states of tomorrow (but, thankfully, without a foreign policy!).
Q. How do you think background will characterize America’s treatment of Arabs and Muslims?
I believe we will come to see this duration as being gripped by a comparable kind of mass hysteria that sustained the Palmer Raids and also Japanese Internment. What’s boring is the this would occur in our write-up Civil civil liberties era, once I thought we would have actually learned indigenous the failure of the past.
Q. Have you gone to all surprised by reactions to your book?
That’s where points are more encouraging. Because the book was published, I have actually been receiving number of emails every mainly from human being telling me how moved they to be by the book and how crucial reading it to be for them. Civilization describe to me just how they’ve found themselves so engrossed in the publication that they’ve missed your subway stop or uncovered themselves all of sudden crying or laughing the end loud. Indigenous Arab and also Muslim Americans, the an answer is regularly one the gratitude, thanking me because that expressing simply what they have been feeling over the last 7 years. This is obviously an extremely gratifying to me, and it renders me feel like I’ve prospered in what I set out come do, because I want each of the stories to be both unique and also universal at the exact same time. The general feeling from all the comment I’ve received, not just from Arabs and also Muslims, is among constructive outrage. Human being are upset the these things are happening and that lock haven’t heard enough about them. Lock all want to occupational towards a much more equitable society. Naturally, there room haters, too. Simply last week, for example, someone composed me wishing me ill and also saying that he hoped that later Brooklyn College will certainly hire people who “actually carry out research and not walk to only Ridge or Paterson, NJ, and ask a couple of questions of teenagers that have actually nothing to execute with your lives.” handling this type of thing, a type of summary animosity that often vents very an individual insults top top me, has additionally become component of mine life, yet mostly ns just overlook it. That doesn’t really bother me very much.
Q. I am specific that many people do no realize they have preconceived notions where Arabs and also Muslims are concerned. What element of your publication do friend think is most eye-opening for readers?
I think there’s a very straightforward principle operating in my book. Friend could speak to it acknowledgment with difference. Human being discover that the personalities in my publication are really much like themselves, other than for the truth that they have these extra burdens to carry, such as immigrant detention, rectal discrimination, and profound questions of identification in a time of war. One might think that the characters’ distinctions from the mainstream, such together wearing a hijab or a kaffiyah, room what gates most readers, yet I don’t think so. Rather, i think it’s the ordinariness that the characters. The relentless repetition in the famous media that all Muslims and Arabs are potential monsters way that the ordinariness of this young people and also their basic human vulnerabilities space actually very meaningful and oddly surprising.
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Q. Exactly how does the supposition that Barack Obama is Muslim that surfaced throughout the presidential project fit right into this story? do you think his administration might have the ability to alleviate few of the an adverse impact on Arab Americans?
The presidential project was eye-opening, proving just just how pervasive anti-Arab and also anti-Muslim emotion is today. Top top the one hand, you had actually the Obama campaign running far as fast as it could from any type of hint that Obama to be anywhere connected to Muslims. His website listed the accusation the he was a “secret Muslim” as a “smear,” together if there is miscellaneous horrible about being Muslim. The McCain campaign was even worse. The Arizona senator repetitively talked about the United says not together a multi-faith country, however as a Christian nation. He constantly invoked the “Judeo-Christian” values of the country in a manner the left not simply Muslims yet Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and also many others the end in the cold. Faced in a city hall meeting v a mrs who asserted she couldn’t to trust Obama because she had actually heard he was “an Arab,” McCain shook his head and reassured her. “No Ma’am,” that said. “He’s a decent family man, a citizen,” as if gift an Arab was the the opposite of gift a decent family members man or a citizen, even! no candidate stepped foot in a mosque during the campaign, though they did visit churches and also synagogues. This every goes to show how, much more than any other group today, Muslim americans have become politically radioactive and beating up on Arabs is politics expedient. I hope the the instance will enhance under one Obama administration, and I intend it will to part degree. Yet we have additionally arrived in ~ a moment in our history where friend cannot different Arab American worries from Arab issues. Our case here, in other words, is straight dependent top top what wake up in the center East, so there is yet one more imperative to discover just options to the problems of the region, the Palestinian question over all. Overseas wars, in various other words, threaten the human being rights the many human being abroad and our civil rights here at home—not simply the legal rights of Arab and Muslim Americans yet the civil liberties of all Americans. We need to conclude those wars with wisdom and justice.
Q. What space you working on now?
The publication has maintained me very busy since its publication. Simply this week, to provide you an idea, I will be top top a dashboard in new York commenting top top what the Obama presidency method for the center East, talking to a university audience in Pennsylvania about the future that Islam in the unified States, and leaving for England to current the publication at London’s school of Oriental and also African Studies. In numerous ways, this broad interest is exhilarating, due to the fact that it mirrors me that there is a hunger because that knowledge and also awareness that my book seems to feed. The difficulty is that, combined with my permanent teaching, ns haven’t to be left with much time to start other projects yet. I do have actually one that I’m collection to begin, however, and also another in the planning phase, therefore please stay tuned!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONSDiscuss the similarities in between this “problem” and the historical difficulties of prejudice in this country against African Americans, aboriginal Americans, and Japanese Americans. What about differences? just how do you check out the future of Arabs and Muslims in America? What’s our following step?What surprised you many reading this book? to be there any misconceptions friend personally had around Arabs or Muslims the were addressed?Which the the individuals profiled right here did girlfriend most identify with? Why?If you’d been on the bus through Yasmin, would you have defended the woman through the baby? How can that case have been tackled better?One way Jews coped with accepted anti-Semitism was to assimilate as much as possible. Similarly, several people in the book mention one of two people passing as Hispanic or one more nationality (ethnicity?). In what means is this a great tactic? In what means is that destructive?Discuss her impressions that Brooklyn. In what ways do girlfriend think the story would have actually been various if the author had chosen one more location?The writer discussed the phenomenon the “middlemen minorities” (p. 122). What room some other examples? exactly how do friend think you would fare working incredibly hard for a specific, and also sometimes short-term, payoff?Omar discusses people’s reaction come his functioning for Al Jazeera. What is your impression of or opinion around that news organization? have actually you ever before seen their reporting? If not, what is informing her opinions?It is argued that congress will eventually have to apologize to Arab Americans because that the government’s treatment of them post-9/11. Do you foresee the happening? If so, when? Recall that congress did no officially to apologize for slavery until July the 2008. If the government did eventually try to do amends, what would be suitable?