How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America
Arab and Muslim Americans are the new, largely undiscussed “problem” of American society, their lives no better understood than those of African Americans a century ago. Under the cover of the terrorist attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Ir ...more
One thing that I didn't like about the book so much is that there are quite a few reconstructed conversations that the author did not witnes ...more
I found this to be an easy and accessible read. Each chapters tells the story of a young Arab American (all of the participants are younger than thirty) and none of the stories are the same.
It is fascinating to read about the transition (for some) to America and how their families assimilated into American culture. It is also heartbreaking to hear how many of these immigrants feel like ...more
I felt her story should not have been included as it wasn't valid. She signed her name to run for student body secretary. When you sign your name to a document you agree to ALL the stipulations, otherwise you should NOT sign your name. One of the stipulations, that as an officer, you MUST attend ALL functions. Her beliefs did not allow her to attend dances because she felt they were morally wrong. In her opinion it was all about sexed up teenagers an ...more
Being forced to read a book for a university class is always guaranteed to leave a sour taste in your mouth. However, with each new book, I always stay optimistic and try to like it.
And with this little number, I tried liking it so hard I might as well have been constipated.
I do, however, give kudos to this book for addressing a serious issue all over the ...more
these portraits of brooklynites show a pervasive racism that i'll admit was profoundly unfamiliar to me. profound not only because these documented injustices occurred close by, down the block and up the hall--but profound too because i'd naively assumed that, for the most part, your cruder, tradition ...more
I enjoyed some of the stories more than others (the first is especially moving), only because a few of the narratives seemed to be unnecessarily long while other, more compelling ones were cut short. (I think this had something to do with the longer stories belonging to persona ...more
The story is of my city, my borough, in particular, about Brooklyn. The people in this story - all young and under 30 - coul ...more
I highly recommend Moustafa Bayoumi's How Does it Feel to be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America. The title comes from W.E.B. Du Bois, who asked the same question about African American during Jim Crow. Bayoumi, who is an English professor at Brooklyn College, chronicles seven Arabs (men and women mostly in their 20s in Brooklyn) and we meet their friends as well.
As you might imagine, the result defies all stereotypes. Some are deeply devout Mu ...more
Another strength is how ...more
This was defin ...more
Some things have changed substantially for Arab Americans since 2006: American involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have mostly ended, and the rawness of the wound to the American psyche of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have receded. Yet, Arab Americans still face a challenging and volatile ...more
I read this for class, and I was not at all pleased. I picked this book for a project because I figured it would be helpful with finding out information on religious extremism, and I was completely let down. I could not get into it, and it just did sound right. In the book, there are the seven stories of young Arabs in the aftermath of 9/11. Each story was told from the third-person, so it felt completely impersonal. I could not connect with any of these people, and it just dragged on forever. I...more
This is my favorite quote, from Omar's story (he is trying to get a job in Journalism and isn't sure if his internship at Al-Jazeera is harming him or if the economy is just bad, or what):
"And that's where Oma ...more
The author relates the stories of seven Arab-American youth from Brooklyn, New York.
It's hard for me to relate to the stories in this book because I'm much older than the subjects, I've never lived in a place with a lot of Arabs (or great ethnic diversity) and I've never had the family, financial and legal struggles many of them had.
Nevertheless, the stories were engaging, and I read the book quickly. Each subject's story made me think abou ...more
He does not much use their voice, but uses the style of an ethnographer - mixing his own observations and some social history with the words of his su ...more
The book is well-written and engaging. Bayoumi adds enough details to flesh out each person, but the stories don't drag. I connected more with some of the people profiled than others, but that's because these are real people. As with real ...more
At different points in our history, we justified discrimination against Jews because we "knew" they were really unscrupulous businesspeople who committed atrocities in their religious rites ... and we were wrong. We justified discrimination a ...more
While it was certainly well written, I did not like it as much as the others. This is mostly the case because of the subject matter, as I'm simply not that interested in the topic of Arab-Americans. The stories do pack quite a punch, especially the first, which is about a girl who is illegaly imprisoned in the wake of 9/11, but others, such as the one about Yasmin just seemed tedious to me. Yasmin w ...more
The smooth, easy writing style, and the compelling stories had me hooked right away. I had to stop to catch my breath after reading just the first section. I knew there were social problems in the U.S. ...more
“Opposition to my book seems more symptomatic of our moment than produced by its contents,” Moustafa Bayoumi writes in The Chronicle for Higher Education. I just finished reading How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? and I agree. Bayoumi’s book isn't the work of a "radical."
The book is interested in the roadblocks young Arab-Americans hit on the way to adulthood — and the negotiations they make with their background in the process. It’s a coming of age story ...more
Not only are the stories that he found incredibly interesting, but he also spun the narratives in a very compelling, authentic, way. I am hesitant to describe any of the stories, for fear of taking something away from the experience of approaching each one completely fresh the first time you read it, but I found the story of Yasmin, a young student who fights against injustice in her high ...more