Virginia Tech professor discusses anti-Arab racism in U.S.
The Boulder Public Library welcomed author and Virginia Tech Professor Steven Salaita in an anti-Arab racism speech Tuesday night that focused on North American and Palestinian communities.
Salaita spent the evening giving the Boulder community his insight on anti-Arab racism.
“Race is a social invention, not a biological fact,” Salaita said.
Salaita addressed issues of what anti-Arab racism is like in the United States, highlighting the misunderstanding of a culture for racism embedded in America.
“It is important to acknowledge and explore where this racism exists,” Salaita said.
Salaita described Arab-Americans as “the newest not quite American citizens,” a philosophical observation on how the term “American” exists as an ideal as well as a nationality.
“There are no expressions of American patriotism that aren’t in some way racist,” Sataita said. “Statements like ‘a real American does this or that’ and ‘if you don’t like America, go back to where you came from’ reinforce these ideals.”
Arab-Americans belong to a culture of distinct history that contributes greatly to the diversity which makes the United States so unique, Salaita said. He also said those characteristics often lead to stereotyping of Arabs.
“Broad characteristics are fixed to a group based on perceived qualities and then are used to make sense of Arabs,” Salaita said.
Salaita also discussed how the media and Hollywood highlight racism with characters portrayed by stereotypical content and costume. The majority of political Web sites also have examples of anti-Arab racism, he said.
“I want people to think more openly and generously towards Arabs,” Salaita said. “Arabs are never depicted as regular humans. I am shocked when I see the type of Arab world in American media. It is so starkly different from the people they represent.”
Salaita will be at a group reading about racism at the YWCA on Thursday, March 6.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Brittany Sovine at Brittany. Sovine@colorado.edu.