Blog: Week 8 (6/10)

Please kindly share your response to any one of the three prompts below (200-250 words):

[A] Writing in the year 2000, Shyrock and Abraham observe: “Arab Detroit is peculiar for the extent to which it exists ‘on the margin’ and ‘in the mainstream’ at the same time” [p.16]. What is the meaning of this statement? Help us understand the paradoxical claim that Arab-Americans in Metropolitan Detroit are “in the mainstream” yet “marginalized” simultaneously. How was this state of affairs dramatically impacted by 9/11 and the War on Terror?

[B] Look over the table of contents in “Arab Detroit: From Margin to Mainstream” and “Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade.” Pick any chapter with a topic that interests you and compose a brief summary of that chapter. Be sure to describe the central claims or main themes of that chapter.

[C] Listen to the radio program and read the news article about Arab-American supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2020 US Presidential Primary. What reasons were given for the widespread popularity enjoyed by Sanders among Arab-American voters in the Detroit-area? Why were some outside observers confused by this phenomenon?

30 thoughts on “Blog: Week 8 (6/10)

  1. Rieke Nachtigall

    [A] The statement: “Arab Detroit is peculiar for the extent to which it exists ‘on the margin’ and ‘in the mainstream’ at the same time” by Shyrock and Abraham refers to the life of Arab Americans living in America. It describes the conflict of having to live within two cultures. They belong to the American mainstream when they represent or think of themselves as being a part of a non-Arab society. And they belong to the American margins when they represent or think of themselves as being a part of Arab society. This can switch and can change even throughout the day when they enter for example their public lives or their private lives. Arab Americans often keep their music, food, and traditional folk arts and therefore keep being in the American margin in those categories. After 9/11 Arab Americans need to show to the public that they are “just like other Americans“ grew and the American mainstream became more desirable to be clearly against terrorism. The discrimination against the Arabic American community grew even though the terrorists of 9/11 were not even American citizens. But at the same time, new festivals and opportunities were made that probably would not have happened without 9/11. Not many left the city of Detroit like Arab Americans in New York did but the number of Arab Americans grew throughout the years.

    1. Cara Bierwirth

      I also think it´s a kind of a conflict, as you said, Arab Americans have to deal with. I don´t really know what to think when I read that they were suspected for the 9/11 attack even though everything said that the Arabs in Detroit didn´t match the information regarding the attackers´ ID. It said when people have to demonstrate to others, in this context to the Americans, that they are not like the attackers. I mean most of them grew up in America and were e. g. 2nd generation.

  2. Cara Bierwirth

    [A] The quote „Arab Detroit is peculiar for the extent to which it exists ´ on the margin` and ´ in the mainstream` by Andrew Shryock and Nabeel Abraham means in a broader definition that these people deal with celebration and exclusion of people. Being in the mainstream means in this context that people then represent or think of themselves in relation to a larger, non-Arab society. With regards to this, people are having work, they have an influence on others (political wise), their living styles is similar to the ones of the non-Arab society and people are successfully running their business. Furthermore, people are becoming or have become Americans. By being Arab-American, it is a special way of surviving special contexts. Being in the margin means they represent or think themselves in relation to Arab worlds. These people are still seen as different unless they behave as others do.

    Due to 9/11, Arab Detroiters were the suspects for this case even though nothing really fits to der profile the attackers had. Because of this several evolvements lead to the fact that Arab Detroit have been transformed into a target of opportunity. People in Detroit were still discriminated and harassed that followed after 9/11.

    Even though you live in the mainstream, you could also be in the margin at the same time. Meaning if you feel connected to a minority that is not really likely to be seen in America, you can still have success in your business. It reminds me of having a dilemma about certain things.

    1. Stefan Becker

      It is interesting to see the different stories and experience from the perspective of an Arab American because I also used to think that it was hard for the Arabs after 9/11. I think generally, it is also the case that many Arabs had to go through discrimination and harassment. Nevertheless, there is e.g. the story that I read which shows that there were and still are a few enlightened Americans who do not transfer the actions from extremists to all Muslims out there (or any other faith/believe).

  3. Marlen Hahn

    [C] Why does Bernie Sanders as a child of Jewish immigrants have the support of Arab Americans during the Presidential Primary? In fact it’s just an easy answer: They don’t only support him, but he’s willing to support them as well.
    The Palestinian American comedian and activist Amer Zahr talks about his essay he has written about why Bernie Sanders. And he makes clear that Sanders gives the Arab Americans the feeling that he is interested in them and in their issues. Besides the general issues during Presidential Primary like education and health care, Sanders’ focus is on human rights and justice. And that’s what marginalized groups need: someone who sees more than the issues of America in general.
    As Bernie Sanders is a child of immigrants himself and as he grew up as a minority in NYC, he shares and went through similar experiences as the Arab American community. Sanders is connected to the communities because of his own experiences and that’s why I really appreciate Zahr’s statement: “We don’t look at Bernie Sanders’ Jewishness”. He describes it at the total opposite: That they see his Jewishness as an asset. They look at him as an outsider and can totally identify with that. The population wants and needs someone who seems like a “normal” person with whom they can identify their own lives with.
    Another important aspect mentioned in the radio interview was the distinction of Arab Americans and Muslims. Many people wonder why Arab Americans are for Bernie Sanders. But they only wonder, because they think all Arab Americans are Muslims and the other way round. But that’s not true. It was interesting to learn that half of the Arab Americans in the USA are all sorts of Christians and that most Muslims in America aren’t Arab. And that’s it: the Arab American community is as diverse as the voters of Bernie Sanders. The Arab American community is a young one and as a lot of older voters go to more traditional candidates, Bernie Sanders gets them all and therefore overlaps generations in his group of voters.
    All in all the major reason why the Arab American community supports Bernie Sanders is his support for them, his interest in other issues such as human rights and justice and more important: he gives room for voices instead of speaking to the communities only. He’s willing to meet activists and to “meet all people where they are”. He sees a political system for everyone and not only for a few billionaires.
    I really like his slogan “NOT ME. US” – On the one hand the slogan makes clear that the American future is not only dependent on the President but on the whole population. And on the other hand I see the “US” in the slogan not only as a personal pronoun but as the representation and abbreviation for the United States which underlines the close affiliation of “us” seen as the people and “US” seen as the nation.

    1. Paul Spiegelberg

      OT: I think Sanders’ slogan “NOT ME. US” was also chosen to establish the greatest possible distance to Trump’s self centered personality and political leadership. What I always found a bit estranging is that Sanders was seen as an political extremist with radical views and agendas. From a German view (at least mine), his ideas seemed just reasonable and within the range of the political center.

  4. Kerem Celik

    [A] Shyrock and Abraham’s statement: “Arab Detroit is peculiar for the extent to which it exists ‘on the margin’ and ‘in the mainstream’ at the same time”, means to me that the Arab folks in Detroit and other places in America have embedded themselves into the American society in a partial way. It’s almost described like Arab-Americans have an off switch, which they can switch as they want to: either present themselves as perfectly integrated into the American society or exclude themselves in the next moment, by sticking to their Arab origins. Arabs at that time are being successful as any part of the society, whether it is an owner of a Taco Bell, a politician or an administrator of a high school. Yet they don’t hide their connection to their origins.
    The aspect of exclusion might have been the biggest effect on these people after 9/11. The fact that there was something foreign in these people, with which they were still strongly in touch, might have been the reason for their ill-advised standpoint in the eyes of the American after 9/11. The thought that the Arab-Americans are connected to their heritage and religion and even that they are in constant connection with their families back home, had opposed a threat in the eyes of an American. I can imagine that this state of mind after 9/11 triggered xenophobia around the states. When thinking about this topic, I remembered this one saying by Albert Einstein, which translates into: “What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice“. I see the relevance of this quote when I think about Arab-Americans pre und post 9/11 but sadly, also today.

  5. Stefan Becker

    [B] The chapter which I found really interesting was “My Life as a Brown Person” by Mujan Seif from “Arab Detroit: 9/11 – Life in the Terror Decade”. It deals with Arab teenager who grew up in Michigan as a Muslim. Before I started to read this chapter, I thought that it would be another story about racism and discriminizing a minority. It would have interested me anyways because it is kind of an autobiographie of Mujan Seif but her story is a little bit different from most other stories. She personally did not encounter discrimination or harassment, there were only a few situations in which she realized that she is an Arab when it came to topics about American movies or books. Nevertheless, she still had a usual childhood in which she did sports like soccer and softball, listened to and danced to music and had a favour for American history. All in all, she is an americanized Arab even though her father did not believe in that because of the incident of 9/11. Mujan Seif had also seen the news and saw how the Twin Towers were destroyed. Back then, she knew that it was a big deal and that this event will never be forgotten but in the end, it did not effect her in any way which made her life in America enjoyable.

    1. Gia An Ernst

      Reading this title I also thought that this story would further on imply the topics of racism and discrimination. I mean the title does not really give further information about how her life was but rather states the main topic without any judgement, but still many people bring their own thoughts and first impressions into statements without judgement and this I think is kind of stereotypical but really exists in every human mind, if conscious or unconscious. Also if unconscious without the aim of judging anything but because we are taught to form our own impressions.

  6. Niklas Nitsch

    [C] Overall, what makes Sanders so attractive to the Arab-American and Muslim communities is that he preaches similarity without assimilation. in the podcast, it was made clear that Sanders personal history is one of the major factors why marginalized communities would flock to him. Although, to outsiders, it may initially appear contradictory and confusing that Arab-Americans would so strongly support a candidate of Jewish descent, if you look at the similarities between them – as pointed out in the podcast – those contradictions vanish. Simply being seen as an “outsider” helps Sanders substantially in gathering following from that community. What I found really interesting was the importance the two interviewees in the podcast put upon Sanders voicing his opinion (they called it revolutionary and incredibly forward-thinking) on the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Once again, Sanders personally history and ethnic background help him gathering support and trust, as those make it believable and relatable that he has agency in resolving such conflicts peacefully and with a lasting resolution. When it comes to his politics then, the Arab-American community (according to the podcast at least) appreciates him approaching them, seeking them out and seeing them as political assets and not burdens or threats – he does not take votes for granted. They also highlight his very democratic and socialist goals for healthcare and the justice system, which would greatly benefit Arab-Americans. That socialist and very drastic rethinking of current methods also yields him the favor of younger voters, which, in the podcast, they claim the Arab-American population in the area to primarily be (or at least those actually voting and politically engaging). Overall, they point out his goals as very believable and practical. Basically: achievable and in their best interest.

    1. Paul Spiegelberg

      I think Sanders also catches the attention of Arab-Americans because he is aware and clarifies that Arabs aren’t necessarily Muslims and vice versa. I’ve got the impression that he therewith unveiled a myth to a lot of ignorant Americans.

  7. Patricia Riemer

    [C] The American politician Bernie Sanders supports the Arab Americans.
    So it is no wonder that the Arab Americans also support him. Amer Zahr, a comedian, talked to Ali Harb about his essay which dealt whith Bernie Sanders and the reason why he supports the Arab Amricans and why they support him. He makes clear that in addition to the general problems, Sanders also focuses on human rights and justice.
    Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn in the east of New York, because his parents emigrated to the United States at a young age, he is one of the immigrants. Because of his Jewish roots, he had many of the same experiences as the Arab Americans today. Zahr describes Sanders’ Jewishness as a total opposite to what it is.The Arab American see sanders as an outsider, which can be a reason why they can identify themselfs with him.
    Another very interesting fact mentioned in the radio interview was that the Arab American community is very young and is not made up exclusively of Muslims, but mostly of Christians. Sanders gave them the room to speak, met with activists and defended the rights of individuals. I found the Articel and the radio interview very interesting ans so i searched for more facts. During my research, I found out that Sanders laid down his candidacy, which shocked me.

    1. Martina Grym

      One of the main reasons for Sanders’ popularity is definitely that he is also a child of immigration and therefore different communities (such as the Arab-Americans but also African-Americans) feel not only understood but also connected to him as he knows how hard it can be to belong to a minority. He understands what it feels like to come to a new place and face all the obstacles (prejudices, injustice,…) and challenges that come in your way. Too bad he laid down his candidacy because he is a person with empathy, justice, compassion and integrity and this is exactly what the nation needs right now.

  8. Janek

    C] There are several reasons why Bernie Sanders’ campaign was so popular among the Arab-American community in Detroit: First of all, Sanders is very popular among young people in general. Therefore, the Arab-American community confirms this nation-wide trend as it is a fairly young population. Secondly, Sanders’ campaign specifically targeted the Arab-American community by meeting them and speaking to them. This approach differed largely from e. g. Hillary Clinton’s campaign from the year 2000 where she returned donations from the Arab-American community after being publicly criticised for accepting them. She therefore valued the risk of losing votes in other ethnical groups as higher than the chance of gaining votes (and money!) from the Arab-American community. In opposition to that, Sanders sees the Arab-American community as an asset instead of being “toxic”. Another aspect which fuels Sanders’ popularity is the fact that he addressed local problems like e. g. water pollution in Michigan. A politician who claims to solve problems in a certain region will obviously gain popularity among the people who live there.
    Some people were confused by the support Sanders enjoyed within in Arab-American community due to the fact that Sanders is a Jew. This confusion is caused by the general beliefs that Arab-Americans are Muslims and Muslims and Jews generally stand on opposite sides. While the latter is obviously a very superficial generalization which evokes around the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the former simply is not true as half of the Arab-American community is Christian.

  9. Sabrina Schröder

    [C] Senator Bernie Sanders enjoys great popularity among Arab Americans due to several reasons. One aspect which I think is very impressive is his election slogan “Not me. Us”. It clearly states his purposes to why he wants to be elected. His focus is not on himself, it is not about him becoming president and collecting all the benefits that come with this office. It is about the people. Sanders is the first presidential candidate to truly care about the Arab community in the United States. As many Arabs are Muslims, they can identify with his call for justice which is also one of the most important aspects in Islam.
    It is Bernie Sanders’ mission to fight all kinds of discrimination in the United States. He is a man of the people, he is “speaking people’s literal and political language” and meets people were they are, especially the Arab community. Many people believe him to govern from the bottom-up. He actually meets up with communities, talks and listens to the people. Sanders believes that health care and affordable education are human rights, not only for white people but for every group of minorities in the United States.
    Some people do not understand why Arab Americans support Bernie Sanders since he is Jewish. What those people do not consider is the fact that Sanders is an immigrant, an outsider just like them. His Jewishness connects him to the Arab community.
    Arab Americans express that they “need someone who unites Americans, not divides [them]”. Senator Bernie Sanders, to them, is exactly that person.

  10. Acelya Ördü

    [B]: Coming Home by Lara Hamza

    Lara’s story was very emotional and heartbreaking. In 1979, alongside with her parents and her brother, she immigrated to the US from Lebanon, Beirut. Lara was only five years old when they had to abandon their homeland due to escalating tensions and war. Right from the beginning Lara makes clear how this experience was an emotional rollercoaster, from being detached from your own heritage up to feeling torn apart between to cultures, unfortunately leaving lasting psychological scars:
    “Now, as I continue struggling to find a balance between Arab and American culture, I not only have a deeper understanding of the pain my parents felt, I realize that the notion of assimilation is as false as the possibility of maintaining a pure cultural heritage.“
    Having been pulled out of her Lebanese environment at a very young age, she hadn’t even had the chance to fully develop her Lebanese identity. When the family moved from Dearborn (Michigan), where they lived comfortably among the Arab community and “naturally blended in“, to Florida, things drastically changed: for the first time, she felt alienated and foreign. Lara got insecure and really was stuck between two cultures. This sadly became apparent when she started suffering from an eating disorder; Lara wanted to assimilate into American society so badly that she took it too far: she started taking diet pills in order to live up to the American beauty ideal.
    Throughout the years, already being “plagued with misconceptions, stereotypes, and ignorance about [her] Arab identity”, and given the additional pressure of Lara’s (American) peer group, she was confronted with totally different moral codes and lifestyles. On one hand, Lara didn’t want to lose her family bond and not disappoint her family (betrayal), but on the other hand, she had the urge to break free and be fully assimilated into the American culture.
    At the end, which I found beautifully written, Lara finds her way back to her heritage on her own by studying more and more about her culture at the university. With her newfound interest and motivation to find more about Lebanese culture, she looks back at her and her family’s experience as a struggle “to find a balance“ between two cultures.
    In the end, identity construction is always the search for a place called “home“.

    1. Miriam Bieniek

      I really liked the way you described Lara’s adventerous but at the same time rough life after she left Libanon. Her life is an example of many immigrants who left their homes in oder to seak for a better life. Obstacles are part of this journey as Lara had to go through but at the end, as you said, it is always about the way of identification with certain aspects in order to be fulfilled.

  11. Paul Spiegelberg

    [A] Shyrock’s and Abraham’s observation that Detroit’s American Arabs are ‘on the margin’ and ‘in the mainstream’ derives from two major reasons. On the one hand, Arab immigrants in Michigan and the Detroit area can be traced back to the 19th century. The greatest increase in population occurred in the 1990s. Now, more than 200.000 Arab Americans live in Detroit, making it the largest community with Arab origins in the United States. Just to visualize it, the community has the size of a medium city. Arab-Americans established businesses, are active in the political landscape and their children successfully follow the routes of the educational system. At first glance, it sounds like a story of integrational success. Two examples which show that it couldn’t get more mainstream: In 2010, Miss USA Rima Fakih was a Detroiter with Lebanese roots, the same year the Detroiter Sahar Dika could be viewed as the first Arab/Muslim roommate in the MTV reality show The Real World.
    On the other hand, Arabs are viewed differently than Americans of European origin. There is – at least described in the text from the year 2000 – no distinction made between the diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds within the Arab American group. Different religious backgrounds are neither considered. Until the 2000s, American Arabs as an ethnic group of its own are not represented in multicultural settings as in education, politics, arts and diversity events.
    Matters got more difficult post 9/11. We have the hysterical reactions by politicians and journalists that “Arabs” are assigned the attributes dangerous, un-American, pro-terrorism, leading to racism, surveillance, police raids, hostility and humiliation – worst in infamous camps such as the Abu Ghraib prison. However, new job and career opportunities in the executive arose. Arabian language skills and cultural insight was required in the War on Terror. Eventually, there came a political and social understanding that Arabs in America and Detroit are more diverse than the simple term suggests. Cultural events were supported and the Arab American National Museum – the first of it’s kind – and the America’s largest mosque the Islamic Center of America were – publicly funded – established.

    1. Paul Spiegelberg

      Side note: Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010, appeared as a guest on the WWE Tribute to The Troops show in Fort Hood, Texas. To me it sounds like an arrangement with the potential for a tense mood. @Scott Or am I unnecessarily caught up in stereotypes about the WWE, troops/soldiers and Texas?

  12. Fabio Wortmann

    “Arab Detroit is peculiar for the extent to which it exists ‘on the margin’ and ‘in the mainstream’ at the same time” sounds like a lack of identity. On the one hand you are considered a fully integrated American and you are not excluded like some Afro-Americans ( for example ), but on the other hand you are kinda living on the margin because you are still from arab origin. I believe that Arabs could choose between their identities and they were successful in their daily lives and careers.
    I can imagine the rejection Arabs had to face after 9/11 especially because of their origin because some gullible Americans connect 9/11 with people with an arab origin. Though I can somewhere understand anxiety and scepticism if you are an American citizen living in New York City after 9/11. You wouldn’t be able to walk outside the house feeling safe but it is not correct to fear arab people only because they look a certain way.

    1. Fabio Wortmann

      Additionaly I wanted to add that I believe this is a problem that still exists in America today. People that have a certain appereance are neglected and they are being discriminated against which in my opinion is an absolute No-Go in the 21. century. Picking up on that I think the on going protests that aim to abolish racism are finally a sign from people all around the world to create progress in America.

  13. Maedeh Mirzaei Ataabadi

    In this short comment I will focus on the endorsement of Arab-Americans of Bernie Sanders; His popularity among this community may seem confusing for some outside observers because the first thing that comes to their minds is the dichotomy of Arabs and Jews which seems to have a taken-for-granted nature. This union between a Jew and Arabs can seem odd, because historically speaking, for the case of Michigan, as one of the largest Arab communities, a lot of Lebanese Muslims came from southern Lebanon and settled in Michigan during 1975 civil war (a war between Israel and Lebanon). So one might think with the entire Middle East Arab-Israeli conflict, why should Arabs choose a Jew? But as Amer Zahr explained in his interview, we can look at Bernie Sanders’ Jewishness as sort of an asset, sort of something that connects this community to him more. Here by asset I think the writer refers to sanders’ lived experience of being in a minority community which of course can be way too different from Arab community but still share similarities and that is what matters. Another reason for this endorsement (although we have to keep in mind that The Arab-American community is very diverse and Half of the Arab-American community in America is Christian and most Muslims in America are not Arab) is that Bernie was the first presidential candidate to condemn Islamophobia and as Sarah Rahal puts it: Bernie humanized Muslims, highlighting how their concerns are not unlike Americans of other religious beliefs.
    Personally, I think what makes (made!) Sanders popular among this community (apart from his call for racial justice) is his socialist policies because although in Arab community, some are relatively wealthy and professional; others (which I think are the majority) are predominantly poor and working-class and his socialist agenda of eliminating private health insurance and making an economy that works for all, not just a few, seems quite attractive.

  14. Gia An Ernst

    (B) I chose the story “Dumb like a Fox” out of curiosity because I myself could not imagine how a story with such a title would fit into the topic of ‘Arab Detroit’.
    This story, written by Don Unis, deals with a boy telling a story about his stepfather Sam Shamey, an Arab immigrant. His stepfather worked as a maintenance laborer at the Ford Rotunda and always had to work at night, cleaning floors and toilets or else. One night he had to clean up the movie theatre room of the company and noticed that there was a wallet left on one chair. He picked it up and saw that it contained fifty one-hundred dollar bills. Because he was not able to read or write and only knew the value of the amount of money he brought the wallet to his boss Paul and told him that he found it in the theatre. The next day Mr Ford himself, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, wanted to talk to Sam and asked him if he was the one finding this wallet and if he knew how much money was in the wallet and many more questions. Sam answered all with ‘Oh, yeah’. Next to Mr Ford was Mr Firestone sitting, who made the tires for Mr Ford’s car and who the wallet belonged to. He after that wanted to give Sam five one-hundred-dollar bills and Sam rejected and said that this was “not the point” (p. 105). Subsequently the boy interrupted with the sentence “My dad’s dumb like a fox, right?” (p.105). But later on Mr Ford was so impressed by Sam’s honesty that he calls in his secretary and said that he wanted her to mention in Sam’s file that he ensures Sam will always have a job as long as the Ford Motor Company exists. Therefore Sam has gained respect and prestige from Mr Ford and never got controlled or questioned whereas other workers did and ‘guaranteed his whole future’ (p.106) because of his total honesty instead of taking a lot of money at once.

  15. Joe Troxler

    The Arab-American community which is biggest in the State of Michigan has seen a strong aligning with Bernie Sanders the Vermont Senator and until recently strongest contestant to Joe Biden, now the Democratic Nominee of the 2020 Presidential Election. This comes as a surprise to many outsiders because stereotypes about the Arab and Muslim communities have dominated people’s opinions. Somehow it is assumed that Arab-Americans must have an issue supporting Mr. Sanders, a son of Jewish immigrants. Just for the record, the biggest Muslim population is not found within the Arab-American community, but rather in the African American. About 50% of the Arab-American community is Christian. Many people get this wrong, but the terms of Arab and Muslim Americans must not conflate.
    Regardless of people’s reaction, there are quite a few good reasons for this wide-spread support of Sanders. For one, Bernie Sanders as a son of immigrants is part of a minority himself and therefore an outsider to mainstream American politics. His experience as such has helped the Arab-American community identify with him. Furthermore, his values and campaign goals well-presented through his slogans, like “Not Me. Us” and “Fighting for the Weakest among us” has resonated well with the call for justice, especially in the Muslim population. Even foreign policy and his rhetoric about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has found himself many followers. Additionally, Bernie is one of the few that even cared to show up in rallies aiming at the Arab-American community, ran campaigns in Arabic and met up with activists and advocates. Both see each other as an asset and therefore value each other’s support.

  16. Miriam Bieniek

    [B]: Reading the introduction Chapter of Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade I noticed that history and development of the Arabic community began in the late nineteen century until today. After the 9/11 the first decade was called ‘The Terror Decade’. The Arabs used this Decade of War in order to ‘mobilizing force’ and tried to reach Detroit as their ‘target of opportunity’. During this Decade Arab Detroit was doing well and there were depicted several examples in the Chapter in order to emphasize the years during the decade that show how national security, Islam and American identity are tied together in Detroit.
    However, later in this Chapter the cultural analysis and political critique is taken into account by describing life in Detroit. Arab Detroit was not seen as a place where people can live their life according to their desire but rather following the ‘demands of public representation’. Therefore it is underlined that one should step out of the patterns and find alternative ways to follow a normal life. After the overcome of the hard time of 9/11, ‘local political configurations’ were produced in order to support the Arab community to assimilate to the Americans. By reading the Chapter I realized the importance of citizenship and pluralism and its significant role of national belonging.

  17. Bente Buschmann

    Reading the texts about Arab Detroit made clear that each community depending on religion, beliefs, ethnic background or any other aspect had to suffer under certain oppressions in the United States. Therefore, I also recognized that there were two groups of Arabs living in the U.S. Some of them tried to integrate as much as they could and others have seen the American culture as a threat of their way of life. For this reason The USA consisted of “American-Arabs”, who tried to fit into the American culture and belong to the “mainstream” and of Arabs that didn’t want to lose their cultural background and therefore exuded themselves from other communities. Nonetheless each community of them came to America because of war, political dissatisfaction or oppression. They were refugees that wanted to start a better life in America as many other people around the world, as well. The only difference between them and other migrants is their way of dividing one own community because of other point of view in context to the American culture which refers to Americanizing and Arabizing.
    Furthermore, the 9/11 disaster in New York made it even harder to live in The USA. Each community that could be related to Arabs or Muslims had a rough time back then since they were living with a continuing threat of having to answer for that horrific terrorist attack. This must have been a very hard time for them. Especially Detroit had to suffer under that fear since there were working and living most of the Arabs/American Arabs communities. In fact Arab communities were like a target for opportunities to the USA which wasn’t a comfortable situation as they were made dependent on the rest of the USA. Arabs were offered better jobs when cooperating with the state concerning the 9/11 disaster. This put them in a position of assist in a war against other Arabic speakers just because they can speak the same language and function as an mediator.

  18. Falk Engberding

    The given quote: “Arab Detroit is peculiar for the extent to which it exists ‘on the margin’ and ‘in the mainstream’ at the same time” is about how Arab-Americans present and perceive themselves in American society. They are “part of the mainstream“ when they think of themselves as being part of a non-Arab society, but as soon as they think of themselves of being part in an Arab society they belong to the margin in American society, although they behave the same. This gap leads many Arabs to be kind of constantly switching between being well integrated in American society on the one side and being more conservative while sticking to Arabian society and their lifestyle on the other side.
    Furthermore it´s not only a question about how Arabs perceive themselves, but also a question of how do other Americans perceive Arabs in society. Switching positions in society is a natural process but can also lead to insecurity when it comes down to interaction between cultures, especially when prejudices lead to misunderstandings.
    Prejudices is one of the keywords that needs to be used when talking about the consequences for Arab communities due to 9/11. Wide parts of Arab society in the US got under a foolish “general suspicion“ just after there was information that the attack was carried out by muslim extremists. Many Arab-Amercians then had to proove that they are solidary with America. Especially Detroit and Dearborn became targets for national security agencies, although the far majority of arabs living there are Chrisitans and most of the few Muslims are Shi’a, which makes them political opponents of Al’Qaida, who were responsible for the attack. But as it turned out, the new attention drew on Arabs in America has helped them with their integration by getting rid of many prejudices about them.

  19. Martina Grym

    [A]: On the one hand the Arab-Americans are seen as American citizens but on the other hand they have to deal with obstacles and challenges (which would be prejudices).
    Arab-Americans integrated themselves which is why they can be defined as “mainstream“. Arabs in Detroit have been successful especially in business for example. Further they are influential in state politics. Since 2001 mosques (in total there are 60 local mosques, including two of the largest in North America) and the Arab American National Museum have opened. This clearly shows that they try to build a new life in America while also of course remaining “faithful“ or “true“ to their roots. Nobody should be blamed for this as it should be possible to live peacefully together and learn from each other. Society should have a positive attitude towards other cultures and traditions as it is an enrichment for any country of this world. However, since 9/11 discrimination, harassment followed and Arabs were prejudged as it was assumpted that they were “involved“ in that horrible attack. The problem is that the majority does not always reflect upon what they hear. They are looking for someone who can be blamed for something and generalise such as saying “all these people who belong to that community are the same and can be blamed for this“, which is wrong. This doesn’t have to do with a community, it has to do with the human being itself. If you observe and watch the world today you sadly do not see any improvements, which is terrible.

  20. Gökhan Kaya

    [C] One of the interviewed persons said that Senator Bernie Sanders almost every member of the mosque he visits supports Sanders.
    One key for the acceptance of him within Muslims and Arab Americans is dealing with the Palestine-Israel-conflict in a relatable way. The fact that he is able to even criticize the Israeli government is basically enough for people to understand that he differentiates between right and wrong in possible ethnically biased political issues. Sanders managed to include Muslims and the Arab American community in his campaign and successfully gained their support, especially referring to 18-35 year olds. He did rallies in mosques in Michigan which is seen as an ultimate interest in connecting with the Muslim and Arab American community. By simply showing up he is already being recognized and respected while Hillary Clinton did not even visit Michigan. Domestic and foreign policies, addressing health care issues, student debt, etc. are all aspects of his campaign that were seen positively and additionally to that Arab Americans being part of a marginalized community can identify with Sanders who could be seen as an outsider himself, which gives both sides a common ground.

  21. Bente Buschmann

    I have decided to pick the book “Canvas Detroit”. Art sets free creativity, imgaination and visions of different people around the world. It is something special that often cannot be put into words. For this reason, I wanted to read about worksof art in Detroit as this city has suffered from tremendous decline on several perspectives in the past.
    For many people, Detroit is seen as a ruin full of abandonend houses. However, the book refutes some of these prejudices since it refers to artists around the world that expierence Detroit as a city of hope in the poverty. Its worse shape and unlikely climate seemed to be attractive for many artist in the past to share their creativity and even futuristic visions of the city. They simply have seen the beauty of it, whereas other people only see emptiness. During the course of time, more and more artowrks have been created with different purposes. All artists can live out their creativity in Detroit, while might seeing their work as a revitalization for the city or just as a possibilty to practice their hobby. In addition to that, some people integrate social dimensions into their work. For example, walls, windows or other objects not only give room to live out the creativity for professionals but also for people that want to find out their creativity somehow. Therefore, some artists also work as mentors to give young people the possibilty to work on their artistic abilities. Due to many different disciplines of art, there is enough room for all kinds of new, old and professional artist. In fact, Detroit were coming to life again, thanks to many artists.


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