Article: "Arabs & The 'Racial Lessons' of 911"
With the 5-Year date of the attacks that were made
on both the WTC-Towers & the Pentagon coming up
----- the following article seemed rather appropriate.
The author makes some really good points which pertain to the
traditional negative treatment and attitude of many Arab-Americans
toward "black" Americans vs. their "sudden post-attacks claim" that
they somehow "understood"; "could relate to"; and even see themselves
as being as equally-persecuted as most of the "blacks" have
historically been in the United States of America (yet somehow,
ignoring the participation of some of the members of their own
community in some of the negative treatment of America's "blacks").
The person who wrote the article is an Arab-American
and does a really good job at pointing out the obvious
and massive hypocrisy found in these "sudden claims".
The article does a good job in showing that "Standing Up Against
the Practices of Racism and Ethnicism (Against Any Group)" -----
is what every community in the United States should do at all times.
Arabs and the Racial Lessons of 9/11
(--written by Carol Chehade, an Arab-American)
Profiled, feared, detained, assaulted, accused,
interrogated, harassed, hated, and collectivized
since 9-11, Arab Americans have suddenly "known"
what it feels like to be temporarily "black".
Although it is wrong to treat Arab Americans like criminals,
we shouldn't be surprised when we are treated in ways
African Americans have been treated for centuries.
Still, many in my Arab American community
are `surprised' when we are treated "un-White."
We figured that if we played by `the racial rules' of
this country, we would be bypassed in receiving
some of the bigotry that "blacks" routinely receive.
Yet, that old cliché of what goes around comes around
finally showed itself to be more than another cliché.
The backlash we're now receiving is from the same whip
we've borrowed to lash out against "African Americans".
Currently, the Arab American community is having a
hard time trying to figure out why we've been `racially
demoted 'from ethnic "house slave to ethnic field slave.
I am less disappointed in how my ethnic group has been
signaled out and more disappointed in how we have been
pathetically courting the very `White privilege' that has
the power to decide which group will be signaled out.
We need to be completely honest as Arab Americans
and ask ourselves whether or not we have
been ethnic models of anti-racism.
My heart tells me no.
Although 9-11 represents many things to different people,
one of its most interesting features is how the
events after 9-11 can gauge how far we've come
in understanding `the disease of racism'.
As I walked through diverse neighborhoods in New York
City shortly after the carnage of 9-11, I noticed many
non-"black" people-of-color had aggressively decorated
their homes and vehicles with American flags.
The more immigrants in the area or the more the residents
resembled Arabs, the more flags I saw lightly fluttering in the air.
I thought to myself that it is too bad "black" people can not
lightly wave their flags in the air whenever members
from their own race experienced problems.
Unlike Arab Americans, the flag that African Americans
know is so heavily drenched in blood and tears
that it can never lightly flutter anywhere.
Looking at how Arab Americans use flags reminds me of the
Biblical story of God instructing the Hebrews to mark their
doors with blood so that the wrath of God would bypass them.
Like countless immigrant communities before 9-11,
many Arab Americans freely participated in covert
and overt acts of racism against African Americans.
This is no secret to "black" people who already
know that Arab Americans have the same type of
`superiority complex' that European Americans do.
This superiority complex is not only evident in the way
we act toward "black" people but in the way we choose
to disassociate ourselves from `their community'.
Our disassociation would not be so evident if we weren't
ruthlessly trying to move up the `racial hierarchy'
so that we can be `closer to Whiteness'.
Unfortunately, every non-"black" immigrant group has
worked hard to secure a so-called "respectable"
`place above' "blacks" on the `racial hierarchy'.
When groups like Italians, Jews, Hispanics, Asians,
and now Arabs have faced their turn to be questioned
on their allegiance to upholding the caste structure,
few fully challenged the legitimacy of this
`racist pre-condition to be accepted' as Americans.
As the Arab American community contends
with the discrimination we're facing,
we have been `a little more sympathetic' about
`some' of the issues African Americans have
always contended with, but which we did not
believe until they started happening to us.
Instead of `seeing the bigger picture of racism' by creating
permanent and stronger ties with the "black" community,
we often use such `ties' as a temporary refuge, a temporary
residence `where we find people sensitive' to "our" plight.
I say temporary because we are not trying to stay "black".
In contrast, the only impermanent feelings we have
toward Whites is that our eviction from "Whiteness"
is nothing more than `a temporary inconvenience'
As long as we repay our dues by not challenging
"Whiteness" in any real way then Whites, in
exchange, will trust us again and re-induct us
back into the `racial position' we held prior to 9-11.
History has shown us that as long as we follow the
formula of selling out our color to the highest bidder,
then Whites will accept us back quicker than they will "blacks".
The proof of us using "blacks" as temporary residence
is exemplified in the way that we are more concerned
with bigotry `toward` our community without facing
the racism that comes `from' our community.
If we really wanted the "black" community as
a permanent residence, then we'd put more
effort and care to resolve our issues.
An analogy is that if a man does not truly care for a woman,
rarely will he take the time to explore her complexities
because he knows he's only with her temporarily.
Arabs have a lazy attitude in relations with "blacks"
because we are `simply buying time' in order to
invest in the desired habitat of "Whiteness".
We become another of a long line of people
who use the "black" community and then
discard it for something perceived as better.
AS A RESULT, WE INVALIDATE OUR CRIES
OF DISCRIMINATION BY PERPETUATING
THE VERY THING OF WHICH WE COMPLAIN.
Our temporary exile from "Whiteness" should serve as a
wake-up call as to whether we want to be re-instated into
a racial hierarchy that wields so much unearned power.
We look so racially arrogant when we complain
to "black" people about our brushes with bigotry.
Stereotypes against Arab Americans have
never been powerful enough to `enslave' us.
An international event had to take place for
the eyes of Whites to look down upon us,
whereas those very eyes have been
obsessively watching `blackness' despite
"black" people having done nothing.
It took the worst terrorist attack on American soil for Arab-
Americans to be `mistreated', whereas all it took for African
Americans to be mistreated was to be `on' American soil.
If "black" Africans instead of Arabs had brought terrorism to our
shores, there would have been a race war in this country.
And judging by the way the Arab American
community has treated African Americans,
I don't think the majority of us would jeopardize our
climb up the `racial hierarchy' to be siding with them.
With all of the ignorance the Arab American
community has been victim to,
we still haven't fully learned our `racial lessons'
due to the fact we still want our full "Whiteness" back.
One of the most seductive privileges of "Whiteness" is that
it allows us to blend back into the `racial comfort zone'
where we're not constantly questioned.
All non-"black" people-of-color have been able to
enjoy this, albeit conditional, racial comfort zone.
Being a "minority" has less to do with "what we
look like" and more to do with "how we think".
A `real minority' means someone who
destroys the `power' of "Whiteness".
Since African Americans have done this more than
any of us-often without choice- they produce more
"minorities" than any other ethnic group-of-color.
Arab Americans can never be real "minorities"
as long as we routinely switch racial allegiances
to the side that best `serves us at the moment'.
We change our positions with as much speed as
"Whiteness" has in `disowning' those who challenge
the `false pretences' it takes to become "White".
We exhibit this non-committal, part-time "minority" status
whenever we want some the "perceived benefits" of minorities
without giving up the `privileges' of "Whiteness".
Until we can build an equal relationship
with the "black" community that does not
position Arab Americans with `the upper hand',
then I will not bastardize "the `black' struggle"
by "joining" it with the Arab American "struggle".
As long as we crave the `approval' of "Whiteness",
our relationship with the "black" community
will be dysfunctional.
Like all wars, 9-11 brought a country
together over `a shared common enemy'.
This `superficial unity' will fall apart as soon as
that enemy is "shown its place" and the only way to keep
this `deceptive unity' going is to find another `common enemy'.
The `most returned to common enemy' in
our country has been "black" people.
Our country may have short-term affairs
with other "enemies" such as Arabs,
but as soon as these short-term affairs die out, then it
always goes back to the "enemy" it has abused the longest.
Arab Americans have a tremendous opportunity to
alter this pattern by not enabling it with our consent
to support the indiscretions of `racial superiority'.
If we are to be positive additions to the United States ,
then we have to strengthen what makes us weak, and one
of the biggest things that weaken us as a nation is racism.
Carol Chehade is an activist the writer of the book entitled
`Big Little White Lies: Our Attempt to "White-Out" America '.
Further information can be found at
Copyright © 2002 Carol Chehade