A lecture by author Moustafa Bayoumi, entitled "How Does it Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young, Arab, and Muslim in America Ten Years After 9/11," was held Nov. 17 in The University of Scranton's Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall. The professor of English at Brooklyn College CUNY discussed his book, "How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America," which focuses on the experiences of young Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans in post-Sept. 11 America.
The title of Bayoumi's book comes from a quote in W.E.B. DuBois' "The Souls of Black Folk." Bayoumi said he was reminded of this quote in the moments following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"At that moment, right away, people knew that this was going to be a different time for Arabs in this country," Bayoumi said.
Bayoumi explained that the post-Sept. 11 years have brought about what he calls a "progressive dehumanization of Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans in the United States." Law enforcement strategies and stereotyping, Bayoumi said, have contributed to the "dehumanization."
To counter the growing hostility in the United States, Bayoumi said he sought out to collect real life stories about young Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans to"re-humanize a population."
By using the tool of storytelling, Bayoumi said he wanted readers to step away from stereotypes, thus "opening the windows of empathy" for the Arab-American and Muslim-American people.
"You have to be able to let go of who you are and enter into somebody else's experience, when you're hearing a story," Bayoumi said.
Besides writing "How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America," Bayoumi's articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine and CNN.com. He has also been featured on Fox News and National Public Radio.
The lecture was sponsored by the Office of Equity and Diversity.