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Transcript of Middle-Eastern Oppression
By: Grace Hankes & Nuha Malik
Last year we created a simple 10 question survey that aimed to help us discover what levels of oppression that are going on around us every day, which was made open for any person of Middle-Eastern ethnicity to take. The information we received through the responses to our survey was surprising at times.
1. Have you ever felt disadvantaged because of your race?
2. Have you ever been called a terrorist?
3. Have you ever been excluded from a group or activity because of your race?
4. Do you feel like you have been academically challenged because of your race?
5. Have you or someone you know had problems with governmental or public services because of your race?
6. Can you be assured that you will be able to find at least one other person of your own race around you in every day circumstances?
7. Do you think that the Middle-Eastern culture is fairly represented in the Metro-Detroit area?
8. Have you ever been denied a job opportunity because of your racial background?
9. Do you feel pressure to follow American cultural standards and traditions?
10. On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the most & 1 being the least), how greatly affected are you by Middle-Eastern oppression every day?
1. 36% of people surveyed answered YES to feeling disadvantaged.
2. 34% of the responses answered YES to having been called a terrorist at some point in their lives.
3. Being excluded because of their race is something that 31% of our survey takers have experienced.
4. 55%, the majority of those who took our survey, have been academically challenged because of their racial identity.
5. Almost half of the responses said that they had encountered problems with the government because of their race.
6. 42% said that they're not able to find someone else who is Middle-Eastern around them everyday.
7. 44% of the survey takers disagree with the idea that their race is represented fairly in Metro-Detroit.
8. 17% answered NO to being denied a job opportunity based on their race.
9. The majority said that they feel pressured to follow American ways.
10. 40% answered with a 6 or higher on how much oppression they encounter daily.
But yet people still use "terrorist" casually...
Being called a terrorist is just one of the many examples of oppression shown against the Middle-Eastern culture and people who follow the religion of Islam. Some people, however, refuse to see that it is an unfair statement to make.
Michigan is one of the top 5 states with the highest Middle-Eastern population and is also showing a high growth rate, but yet when you look at Michigan demographics, not once is "Middle-Eastern" or even "Arab" mentioned as being a racial, cultural, or ethnic group in Michigan. Is that fair?
We think its about time to show some respect and make a change.
Some Questions For You:
Have you ever felt disadvantaged because of YOUR race or religion?
Do YOU feel that the Middle-Eastern culture is fairly represented and respected in the Metro- Detroit area? Why or why not?
Do YOU feel pressure to conform to the societal standards?
What do you KNOW compared to how much you have HEARD about the Middle-Eastern culture and the Muslim Religion? How does this influence your views?
SOME RESPONSES TO THE DIALOGUES
1. One of the young ladies commented on how a lot of white people (specifically her opinions however) are/feel disadvantaged when it comes to being accepted into colleges because a lot of colleges are now giving preferences to minority groups (affirmative action).
But a counterpoint to this statement that was said by a young black lady was along the lines that black people face more serious problems than not being accepted into colleges.
Someone also mentioned the idea that the stereotypes placed on black people, Muslims and Middle-Easterners are far less dangerous, hurtful, harmful or significant than the ones placed on white people.
2. One of the young men in the class suggested that there was not a significant Middle-Eastern population in Metro-Detroit to be "fairly" represented in the city, but others-including the teacher- were quick to correct him and tell him otherwise, because Michigan, according to the Arab American Institute, is populated by approximately 191,607 Arab Americans.
As I did this presentation in my Yoga class, my teacher said that she really liked it and also that she had been looking at something like this, in which it is said that all people of one identity should NOT be painted with the same brush.
I also chose to do an inter-group dialogue to get this message to people who may not deal with it in their lives, and get new, different & unique opinions- not just because of different races and religions but also the different age groups- the yoga class presented a range from sophomores to seniors.
I decided to facilitate and intragroup dialogue with my family at home, specifically my younger sister. I thought that it is very important that people of the majority group are informed about what is happening by the hands of people with a similar identity to them. It is something that when educated about, change can be made by those oppressing the disadvantaged.
She stated that she enjoyed the presentation due to the fact that topics such as religion and race are hardly ever discussed around her and she feels that it is important for society to be more informed about the truth of these identities rather than rely on the falsity of the media.
HOW DID WE DO? WHY DID WE DO WHAT WE DID?
3. It was mentioned that change isn't something that always comes out of the conventional physical methods of making a change such as campaigning or petitioning, but it is more a mental process of getting to know and understand other identity groups to erase the stereotypes and use empathy to eliminate your discriminatory thoughts.
4. A participant in the dialogue noted that because the older generations of Americans did not encounter such vast amount of diversity in their lives, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what the Muslim extremist beliefs are in comparison to the beliefs of the actual Muslim faith, thus leading to a misuse of the term "terrorist".