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Friday July 08, 2011

Arabs and Muslims Speaking Out–For America

Posted by AAI at 10:08 am

Seventh graders from McCollough-Unis Middle School in Dearborn have put together an exhibit sharing their stories of growing up Arab American in a post-9/11 United States. “In the Heart of Arab America: A Middle School Perspective,” being shown at the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in Dearborn through August 14, is a multi-media project. Students wrote commentary, shot videos, and took photographs illustrating the good, the bad, and the everyday reality of being Arab American, and the tremendous diversity that can be found in this country—even within a single ethnic group.

Also at the museum, opening on 9/11, is Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country. Compiled over the last four years, the exhibit highlights the contributions Arab Americans have made in military and public service. With narratives and photographs, the program illuminates the role that Arabs and Arab Americans have played in serving and defending our nation.

The Washington, DC-based organization, My Faith My Voice, has compiled a series of videos from American Muslims around the country. The project, which can be found on youtube, started as a way to combat the anti-Islamic sentiment pervasive in the wake of the Park 51 controversy. By sharing personal narratives, says founder Rabiah Ahmed, My Faith My Voice is “breaking down barriers… when people know Muslims on a personal level, as a friend or a neighbor, they are less likely to have a negative stereotype."

“These are amazing exhibits, truly innovative ways of telling the Arab American story,” says AAI Executive Director Maya Berry, who also serves on the Advisory Board of the AANM. “Stereotypes in the media—whether in film or in the press— are so pervasive, it’s important to have spaces to share the reality of our community, to talk about who we are not just collectively, but individually. It’s a chance to tell our own story.”

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