This discussion will focus on your perception of and research on people of Arab descent. From Hays & Erford (2014, p. 277): Explain the overlaps and distinctions between the terms Arab, Muslim, and Middle Easterner. Prior to your studies in this course, in what ways do you believe your views about Arab Americans may have been influenced by the media? After your studies, have your views changed?
The terms Arab, Muslim, and Middle Easterner are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings. To understand the overlaps and distinctions between these terms, it is important to clarify their definitions:
Arab: The term “Arab” refers to an ethnic group that primarily inhabits the Arab world, which stretches across the Middle East and North Africa. Arabs share a common cultural and linguistic heritage, with Arabic being the dominant language. However, not all people from the Middle East or North Africa are Arabs, as there are various ethnic and religious groups in the region.
Muslim: “Muslim” refers to a person who follows the religion of Islam. Islam is one of the major world religions, and its followers are known as Muslims. While there is a significant population of Muslims in the Arab world, not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arab. Islam is a diverse religion, with followers from various ethnic backgrounds across the world.
Middle Easterner: The term “Middle Easterner” is a broader term that encompasses people from the Middle East, a region that includes countries like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others. It includes Arabs, non-Arab ethnic groups, and various religious affiliations, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others.
These definitions show that while there are overlaps between the three terms, they each have distinct meanings and encompass different aspects of identity. It is important to avoid generalizations and assumptions by recognizing the diversity within each category.
Before studying this course, many people’s views about Arab Americans may have been influenced by the media. Media often plays a significant role in shaping public perception, and it is not uncommon for negative stereotypes, misinformation, and biases to be perpetuated through various media outlets. Arab Americans have often been portrayed in a negative light, being associated with terrorism, violence, or religious extremism. This portrayal can lead to stereotypes and prejudices against Arab Americans, which can further marginalize and discriminate against them.
Granted, media representation is not the sole influence on people’s views. Personal experiences, cultural upbringing, and interactions with individuals from different backgrounds also shape one’s perception. Nonetheless, media has a significant reach and can play a powerful role in constructing societal narratives.
After studying this course, it is expected that one’s views about Arab Americans would have changed. A comprehensive understanding of the Arab American experience, culture, and history can lead to a more nuanced perspective and challenge stereotypes perpetuated by the media. By examining the diversity within the Arab American community, including their contributions to society, their struggles, and their individual experiences, one can develop a more accurate understanding of Arab Americans as a whole.
Furthermore, studying this course can provide insights into the historical and sociopolitical context that shapes the experiences of Arab Americans. Understanding the roots of discrimination and racism faced by this community can help challenge preconceived notions and promote empathy and understanding.
In conclusion, the terms Arab, Muslim, and Middle Easterner have overlaps and distinctions that are important to recognize. Prior to studying this course, views about Arab Americans may have been influenced by media portrayals, which often perpetuate stereotypes and biases. However, after studying this course, it is expected that one’s views would have changed, with a more nuanced and accurate understanding of Arab Americans, their diversity, and their experiences in society.