Who we are: Countering the narrative

Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 2:27pm

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Illustration by Roseanne Chao

 

Every year, the Arab Students Association hosts Arab Xpressions — a cultural show dedicated to featuring the beauty of Arab culture. Join us Feb. 17 to enjoy traditional Arab dances, music, clothing, poetry and more. As we explore the unique experiences of Arab Americans through detailed displays and hilarious skits, we hope to provide a powerful and entertaining night for you and your family. The following spoken words were presented at Arab Xpressions 2017:

 

Who am I?

A Bearded face, A Handsome face

Brown Eyes, Caring Eyes

Dark Hair, Silky Hair

Tanned Skin, Exotic Skin

Child’s thoughts, Loving Thoughts

 

Pause

 

Who am I?

Bearded face, Shady gaze

Brown Eyes, Menacing plans

Dark Hair, Wicked thoughts

Tanned Skin, distinct Skin

Bad thoughts, My Thoughts

 

When did I learn to fear myself?

-Tariq Mekkaoui

***

I look in the mirror.

And within me, I see my grandmothers. My sito marrying into the Arab culture, choosing to embody both worlds. My tata, raising five children within a civil war. And within me I see strength. They are not submissive.

I see my mother. Fueling her passion for education while doing everything in her power for my own. And within me, I feel her spirit. She is not passive.

These Arab women. Defying the stereotype unrightfully placed upon them every day.

They have inspired me. They have inspired me to redefine what being an Arab means to me. They are my role models. They are my heroes.

-Rasha Jawad

***

My hero.

My dad was 20 when he first set foot in America. He had little money, no backup plan and a mountain of dreams. Sacrificing everything to start a life in America, it was here that he really did start a life. It was here he found love. It was here he started a family. And it was here that he set an example that my siblings and I strive to follow every day. This is the embodiment of the American Dream. A dream that is still alive today, more than ever.

Although as Arabs we may face some hard times, let’s not forget the journey.

For it is only through facing difficulties that we see ourselves grow, and it’s only through adversity that we see communities unite. Let’s not forget the honor and privilege it is to be where we are.

For as proud as I am to call myself Arab, I am equally proud to call myself American. And more than happy to be Arab American.

-Bassel Salka