Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Blog

By Dena Elian
Fall Intern, 2013

Syrian Flags

Over the weekend, dozens of viewers attended a special screening of two episodes of the PBS series Arab American Stories hosted by WHUT, Howard University’s public television station. The 13-part series is a joint effort between co-producers Detroit Public Television and ADC president Warren David.

Each roughly half-hour-long episode features three short documentaries that detail the hardships and accomplishments of different Arab Americans. Among the thirty-nine people highlighted throughout the series are actors, civic and community leaders, legendary journalists, authors, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, teachers, musicians, and others. The featured individuals hail from communities across the country, play important roles in society, and offer narratives that capture the diversity and complexities of Arab American identity.

Once the screening was over, viewers had the opportunity to discuss the series. Some attendees raised interesting concerns about the series, including a fourth-generation Arab American who worried that the documentaries may be too heavily focused on new immigrant Arab Americans, and may not do enough to properly represent those whose families came to the United States much earlier.

Another attendee observed that many of the featured narratives attributed their family’s immigration to the United States to tragedy or unrest in their home countries—giving legitimacy to the Arab world’s stereotype of being unstable. These worries are legitimate, but we’ll have to wait and view the entire series before making a determination. The majority of the audience at the screening appeared to be highly receptive to the series and expressed their interest in watching the rest.

Below are two full episodes. Watch and let us know what you think about Arab American Stories and whether you feel the program does a good job of representing your identity as an Arab American. The series will broadcast on WHUT starting Monday September 23.


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