1.) There are many similarities between “this problem” and the historical problems of prejudice in the USA against Native Americans, African Americans and Japanese Americans. The problem that Arab Americans faced in the book, “How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?”, by Moustafa Bayoumi is related to the challenges encountered by other ethnic groups living in the USA. To start with, Arab Americans are facing the problem of not being able to practice their religion and having to manage with the government’s distrust towards them since they are suspected as someone that they are not. The section from the book that’s about Rami describes how this young Muslim boy’s faith grew more intense after the 9/11. The section, “Rami”, states, “the authorities narrowed their sights on Arab-owned convenience stores, convinced that small-scale scams involving Arab business must be funding international terrorism.
(Bayoumi 226) As you can see, the attitude towards Arab Americans changed significantly since the attack on 9/11. Many Muslims living across the country has difficult practicing their religion and were questioned by the government.. In the book, Rami is a devout Islam follower with spreading the message that Islam is not a religion of terrorism and being a terrorist or suicide bomber is not considered Islam and those acts are illegal in their faith. This generalization about Muslims that developed over time had a huge impact on Rami’s family. During the 9/11 attack, his father was arrested for getting accused of being a terrorist. Money was a concern for Ramis’ family to pay the lawyers in getting his father out of prison.
This was when he came to embrace the religion of Islam. His father was taken out of prison, but was put on probation and would possibly going to be deported.This mistreatment against Muslims created a much bigger problem for the Arab Americans. This problem faced by Arab Americans is similar to the challenges faced by Native Americans. In the USA, Native Americans face high rates of discrimination in their everyday lives. According to BBC News, “alcoholism, unemployment, and suicide are problems associated with Native American reservations in the US.” Because of all the mistreatment they receive, Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide among all ethnic groups in the US.
The reservations where the Native Americans reside on, are very small and they are affected by what is going on in cities and bigger places. There are also many misconceptions about Native Americans that many people have. For example, people may think that another word for Native Americans is ‘red skin’ which seems racist and unreasonable due to the fact that many American Indians don’t have skin that’s red. As you can see, Native Americans having their land confiscated in violation of treaties, being the victims of government-sponsored massacres, and being placed on reservations are similar to the problem faced by Arab Americans. This problem faced by Arab Americans and Native Americans are similar to the challenges faced by African Americans and Japanese Americans.
Starting with African Americans, the problems they face include racism, police brutality, mass incarceration and voting rights. For instance, African Americans are displayed as being unintelligent, lazy, or violence-prone in many movies, television shows, and books. Because of this generalization about African Americans, the prejudice and discrimination against African Americans have been motivated. African Americans also receive hate from other because of their dark skin and wiry hair. Comparably, Japanese Americans also face many problems related to their ethnicity. This problem could be seen when Japanese Americans were isolated in camps during World War II. As described on history.com, this was the result of the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941 in which the Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps under suspicion of disloyalty to the United States.
Internment camps were often situated in isolated deserts prone to harsh weather and surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. As you can see, the problem faced by Arab Americans is also experienced by other ethnicities such as Native Americans, African Americans and Japanese Americans.2.) After reading this section from the book,”How does it feel to be a problem” by Moustafa Bayoumi, I started to see things from a different perspective. This section showed several ignored struggles that Arab Americans face every day from discrimination by the public to being arrested and thrown in jail without having committed a crime or for no justifiable reason. Being a Muslim myself, I could relate to how these people might have felt at the time of mistreatment.
Although many Arab Americans are mistreated, they remain hopeful with the pursuit of a better life. As I was reading about how the 9/11 incidence put many Muslims in danger, including Rami’s father, I was surprised at how this terror attack placed a bigger misconception about Muslims. After this incidence, many Muslim men were suspected as terrorists, which is shocking to me because of the stereotypes people developed about Muslims from an event that was still unclear and unsettled at the time. Something that also surprised me while reading this section of the book was how brave and optimistic Rami was through all these hardships. He stayed doing good in school while also working to support his family while his father was gone.
Rami also attended many meetings at the Muslim Students Association Center (MSA) to talk to young Muslim men and women about the religion and the proper ways to practice it. When it comes to the misconceptions I previously had before reading the book, I would say that I was pretty much like others who believe that Arab Americans should be discriminated against. As I was reading through the text, I could picture the problems Rami and others were facing from the mistreatment that came with stereotypes. When Rami was talking about how reading the Quran gave him faith and hope, I could make a connection to when my dad told me that whenever I am going through a hard time or I feel like giving up, I should try to glance through the book. By reading this wonderful piece of text, from a real-world point of view, I believe that it has impacted my life in a positive way by making me more open-minded and religious.