This I Believe
Throughout my life, I have encountered many relentless conflicts with both direct and indirect family members. Many of these arguments were linked to my association with my culture and its timeless traditions.
I am an Arab, yet I am a stranger to the Middle East. I am an Arab, yet I can barely speak the language. I am an Arab, yet I was born in the American Midwest and raised underneath the liberal skies of the Montreal metropolis. I am an Arab, yet I have often felt as if I did not belong. However, my mother is Arab, my father is Arab, and so therefore, by techniques of cultural association, I necessarily equate to an Arab of the purest blood.
There was a time where this would shame or embarrass me. Being of Middle Eastern descent, even if you are not Muslim, comes with the burden of having to hear everyone’s negative comments and complaints. The crimes we are being punished for were committed by a small group of individuals, yet we are all subjected to the consequent discrimination. I was reluctant to voice my cultural identity to new acquaintances if not directly asked to, afraid of toggling an inert prejudice they held and jeopardizing a future friendship. I do not mean to sound like I ever disliked my own culture, my own people, because I assure you that I did not. I had just never found the courage to publicly advertise my pride of something that popular media had consistently attempted to antagonize. I am glad to say that my views have recently changed.
I am often annoyed by the old Arab mentality of absolute preservation of our culture through thick and thin. We are expected to live as we would in the gulfs, as the unofficial guidelines of immigration deny us the right to integrate into a new society. As a child, I was discouraged from befriending those that were not “of my kind,” and utterly forbidden from ever spending the night at the home of someone of a different culture or religion (including Arabs...