03 July 2008


They were doing men’s work in the field while raising two families—theirs and their masters. This may not be the ideal definition of feminism, but black women were doing more work than white men and white women combined, and they were doing it while being black.

Carol Chehade, Big Little White Lies: Our Attempt to White-Out America, 2001.

[After 9/11,] many in my Arab American community are surprised when we are treated un-White. We figured that if we played by the racial rules of this country, we would be bypassed in receiving some of the bigotry that Blacks routinely receive.

I am less disappointed in how my ethnic group has been signaled out [sic] and more disappointed in how we have been pathetically courting the very White privilege that has the power to decide which group will be signaled out. We need to be completely honest as Arab Americans and ask ourselves whether or not we have been models of anti-racism.

Our temporary exile from Whiteness should serve as a wake-up call as to whether we want to be re-instated into a racial hierarchy that wields so much unearned power.

Carol Chehade, Arabs and the Racial Lessons of 9/11, 2002.

(but she also says some things like "If Black Africans instead Arabs had brought terrorism to our shores, there would have been a race war in this country." this i find hard to wrap my head around. but you know what? so much has changed since 2000 that i can't really remember what it was like for anti-arab sentiment not to be a major and expected current. maybe she's right.)

(and on a bitchier, syntactical note, she also says: "If we are to be positive additions to the United States, then we have to strengthen what makes us weak, and one of the biggest things that weaken us as a nation is racism." it is too snarky of me to say something like really? we have to strengthen racism?, but i just did.)

anyway, just stuff i found interesting. the first reading led me to the second, and that latter stuff is certainly food for thought in my endless attempt to work out where i stand when it comes to race. for example, i find it interesting that someone close to me who is very, let's say, US-oriented for lack of a better phrase likes to tell me don't kid yourself, you're not white, and on the other hand someone close to me who shares my perspective on most cross-cultural and third-world issues likes to say, don't kid yourself, you are white.


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