Moustafa Bayoumi’s book How Does it Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America is highly thought-provoking dealing with the central theme of racial discrimination against the Arab Muslims in United States of America. The racism, cultural biases and injustices make the life of Arab Muslims in America a horror. After the September 11 incident, everything had worsened.
'Even the language of racial grievance has shifted: Overnight, the cries about driving while black have become flying while brown'" (133-4).
They sometimes have to start each day with the fear of getting jailed without committing any mistakes. They might get killed or lost job.
Then one day shortly afterward the director called Sade into her office to tell him that he had to go To this day Sade is convinced that the termination order came from on high, a cleansing of Arabs from New York's fragile cathedral of international commerce (192-3).
At the same time, the book also concentrates on the hope, determination and persistence these groups shows towards their life, which ultimately let them win at some point.
Person from the book I am focussing is YASMIN.
I consider the following event as the challenging life situation that Yasmin had faced. In Bayoumi’s own words, Yasmin was a “a heavyweight fighter stuffed into a tiny, ninety-pound frame.” After getting elected as the secretary in high school’s student council, some years before the September 11 incident. She declined to attend a dance as her religion didn’t support it. Then the school considered her absence as her inability to remain as a leader as they might have thought that leader is the one who sets example and whom everyone apes. As a result she was asked to resign her leadership post. Yasmin decided to fight against the injustice done to her and she protested against the way the school viewed her capabilities. She didn’t want to portray Muslims as incapable of leadership positions. With the support of a pro bono attorney, she finally wins the case. She strongly believed that Muslims’ can’t be rated for their abilities based on the religious restrictions. She believed being an Arab and Muslim she had equal rights, opportunities and abilities like her fellow friends. She won because she fought for her belief.
Life themes that apply to me
During the first year of college, I had enrolled myself to run for class representative post. My college as well as my class had more girl students and only a handful of boys. Still, the college election committee preferred a boy representative from each class. The stereotype was that girls can’t manage the position of a leader of the class, and only boys can. The whole girl students in the college protested against this move. As a result, I could enrol for the post and I had won the election. I find this incident as the denial of opportunity based on gender. But the ambition stemmed from the confidence and the perseverance in fighting for the rights helped me and other girls win.
I find my experience very much similar to that experienced by Yasmin in the story. Though the discrimination was not based on ethnicity, race or religion, but based on gender, I feel it is highly condemnable to single out women from leadership positions or powerful jobs just because the society see them as ‘invalid’ or ‘incapable”. I agree many positions are reserved only for men based on the physical capacities and requirement, but it is high time that the modern world ensured equality to women in terms of education, job, power and esteem. Yasmin had to fight for her post, similarly in my case, all girl students had to call for a strike for getting a female representative.