Arab Americans

Arab Americans


How does it feel to be a problem? Being Young and Arab in America, by Moustafa Bayoumi—In this book, Bayoumi tells the stories of several Arab-American youth and how they are treated post-9/11. Citing W.E.B. DuBois, he asks the question of race as it applies to Arab-Americans, both Muslim and Christian, in a very poignant analysis and personal recounting.


Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice, compiled and edited by Alia Malek—While not exclusively presenting stories of ArabAmericans, this book is an excellent documenting of the stories of almost 20 people who have experienced forms of injustice after 9/11. Arabs, Muslims, Sikhs, and others have been targeted, and this book will provoke much thought, surprise, and incredulity. Malek’s compilation reminds the reader that it is indeed real people who suffer as a result of racial and ethnic profiling. An online resource for teachers of middle and high school students is available online here. [Note: the publisher offers discounts on the book for non-profit organizations and educators.] 


Whitewashed: America’s Invisible Middle Eastern Minority, by John Tehranian—This book is helpful in understanding issues of race and the question of Middle Eastern Americans, especially from a legal perspective. Tehranian, an Armenian from Iran, broadens the discussion beyond Arab-Americans (Iranians, Armenians, Turks, etc., in addition to the question of Muslims and Christians) in a useful way.


Brown Skin, White Masks, by Hamid Dabashi—Following in the cultural critique footsteps of Fanon and Said, Dabashi writes on comprador intellectuals, especially those from the Muslim world who have come to serve the US road to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, during the George W. Bush administration. Fiercely critical of US designs on the world, and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and control of people, Dabashi singles out those who have contributed to rationalizations of these efforts. 


House of Stone, by Anthony Shadid—This Lebanese-American journalist writes of his year-long leave from the Washington Post in which he returned to his family home in Marjayoun, Southern Lebanon, to rebuild the house left by previous generations who emigrated to the US. Told with attention to the story of his family, the people in the Lebanese town, and the people with whom he reconstructs the house, Shadid conveys the experience of emigration and the poignancy of recovering history—of family and of a region. 


Looking for Palestine, by Najla Said—As a young girl growing up in the US, Ms. Said experienced the challenge of discovering identity. As a first generation Arab-American, she had to learn what it meant to internalize that identity and what it means in a US context. This memoir is profound and entertaining at the same time, as Najla discovers her own identity, and has to navigate being the daughter of prominent public intellectual Edward Said. 


A Country Called Amreeka, by Alia Malek—A narrative history of ArabAmericans, as compiled by one. This book walks the reader through the various eras of Arab-American history in the US by focusing on the experience of an individual or family. The book weaves the stories in ways that are moving and informative, making this a very engaging and interesting read. 


Zeitoun, by David Eggars—This quick read but gripping tale is the true story of an Arab-American and his experience in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun is the family name of an immigrant to the US who settled with his Euro-American wife and family in New Orleans. A contractor, he remains in New Orleans during and after the storm, while his wife and daughters evacuate. His mission is to help as many as he can, and the book chronicles his day-to-day efforts…until he is arrested by the authorities.


A Map of Home, by Randa Jarrar—A complex, yet simple, story of growing up and of moving, of seeking home and finding it, then losing it. Jarrar’s novel is about identity and rootedness, relationships with parents and friends, and finding oneself in the midst of conflict.