Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Moustafa Bayoumi at Stacey's

A nice perk of working in the Financial District is being able to drop in on Stacey's Bookstore events. This afternoon I heard part of Moustafa Bayoumi's presentation about his timely book How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America. In the book he explores how the lives of individual young Arab Americans have been affected by 9-11. About a dozen people showed up for the reading, & judging by the comments & questions, they were an unusually well-informed & thoughtful bunch. The reading prompted really interesting discussions of the importance of this book, of prejudice, of profiling, & of travel in the age of terrorism. A woman drew an apt parallel between the country's attitude towards Japanese during World War II & our attitude towards Arabs now. Bayoumi had good responses even for people who challenged him (Doesn't the title itself reinforce negative prejudices? Aren't you simply preaching to the choir? Isn't prejudice itself simply a constant in American society as we absorb new waves of immigrants?). Bayoumi opined that the single biggest issue for the people he profiles is their unequal treatment by the law. A serious topic, but nice to get a dose of intelligent discourse in the middle of the business week.

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