By Reem Sharaf

For a long time now, Arabs, Muslims, and refugees have been depicted by political representatives, certain media stations, and a big portion of the general public as threatening and hostile. The bigotry and negative narrative surrounding those specific groups and others, have led people to elect politicians who would rather attack and segregate groups they don’t understand than educate themselves. In politics there is a term called symbolic politics which means, a politically staged deception. The role of symbolic politics is to shift the attention of the observer from focusing on the facts and data, to instead focusing on the opinions being shared in a symbolically relatable way. In the case of Arabs, Muslims, refugees, and other minority groups they have become the symbol of fear.

As an Arab American Muslim, my role and the role of other minority groups is to change that narrative. The purpose is not to go on the defensive but rather to educate the general public of the faults in the narrative. We need to reframe the narrative and base it on our true values. Growing up, my parents taught me the values of honesty, love, compassion, tolerance, unity, and hard work. They taught me to always stand up for what is right, even if it challenges me or those I love because silence in the face of injustice is just as bad as the actual crime. Those values are what make me who I am. Those values are what this country was based on: freedom, liberty, and justice for all.

It is time to stand up and fix the narrative and remove the deception. An American is not a skin color, a religion, or a classification. An American is one who acts out the values this country was built on. We cannot settle to listen to wrong narratives. We need to go out and represent ourselves and show the world who we truly are. Our narrative has to be based on real change. We cannot build another deception to hide the old one. It is not enough to put up smiling pictures on social media, show up to rallies, or bake brownies for the local bake sale. Those are good ideas but in the end they are just symbols.

True change begins from within. We need to first educate ourselves about the political system, know our representatives, and learn the different ways to share our voices politically. The second step is to understand the narrative and why people are accepting it. Most of the time, it is a result of an insecurity. People fear what they do not know. With that knowledge, we can better understand where impute is most needed. Once we find the need in our local communities, we go out and fulfill it. In place of wrong narratives, we spread positive ones. We do so by practicing the values we preach and the values we hope to see in others.

Our role as Americans is to demand freedom, liberty, and justice for all. We will not settle for symbols of hate and intolerance. We will not settle for faulty narratives. And we will not create an image to fit a mold; we will keep our identity and share its beauty with all those around.

دور الأمريكيين العرب في سرد القصص التي تدور حول المُسلمين والعرب واللاجئين

بقلم‭ ‬ريم‭ ‬شرف

لفترةٍ‭ ‬طويلة‭ ‬من‭ ‬الزمن،‭ ‬تم‭ ‬وصف‭ ‬العرب،‭ ‬والمسلمين،‭ ‬واللاجئين‭ ‬من‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬السياسيّن،‭ ‬ومحطاتٍ‭ ‬إعلاميّة‭ ‬مُعيّنة‭ ‬وجزءٍ‭ ‬كبير‭ ‬من‭ ‬العامة‭ ‬بأنّهم‭ ‬خطيرون‭ ‬وعدائيون‭. ‬قصص‭ ‬التعصب‭ ‬والقصص‭ ‬السلبية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تُحيط‭  ‬بتلك‭ ‬المجموعات‭ ‬وبمجموعات‭ ‬أخرى؛‭ ‬أدت‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬جعل‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬ينتخبون‭ ‬أناسًا‭ ‬قد‭ ‬يقومون‭ ‬بمهاجمة‭ ‬وعزل‭ ‬المجموعات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬لايفهمونها‭ ‬بدلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬القيام‭ ‬بتثقيف‭ ‬أنفسهم‭. ‬في‭ ‬السياسة‭ ‬ويوجد‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬مُصطلح‭ ‬يُسمي‭ ‬‮«‬السياسات‭ ‬الرمزية‮»‬،‭ ‬والذي‭ ‬يعني‭ ‬الخداع‭ ‬المُوظف‭ ‬سياسيًا‭. ‬دور‭ ‬السياسات‭ ‬الرمزية‭ ‬هو‭ ‬صرف‭ ‬انتباه‭ ‬المُلاحظ‭ ‬عن‭ ‬البيانات‭ ‬والحقائق،‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬التركيز‭ ‬بدلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬علي‭ ‬الأراء‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تتم‭ ‬مشاركتها‭ ‬وتقاسمها‭  ‬بطريقة‭ ‬رمزية‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬حالة‭ ‬العرب،‭ ‬والمسلمين‭ ‬واللاجئين‭ ‬والأقليات‭ ‬الأخرى؛‭ ‬فقد‭ ‬أصبحوا‭ ‬رمزًا‭ ‬للخوف‭.‬

وبالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭ ‬كعربيّ‭ ‬أمريكي‭ ‬مُسلم،‭ ‬فدوري‭ ‬ودور‭ ‬الأقليّات‭ ‬الأخرى‭ ‬هو‭ ‬تغيير‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬القصص‭ ‬النمطية‭ ‬حولنا‭. ‬والهدف‭ ‬ليس‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الدفاع‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الذات،‭ ‬بل‭ ‬محاولة‭ ‬تثقيف‭ ‬العامة‭ ‬وتوعيتهم‭ ‬بالأخطاء‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬في‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬القصص‭ ‬والسرّديات‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجةٍ‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬إعادة‭ ‬صياغة‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬القصص‭ ‬وبناءها‭ ‬علي‭ ‬قيمنا‭ ‬الحقيقية‭. ‬حين‭ ‬ترعرت‭ ‬علمني‭ ‬أبواي‭ ‬قيم‭ ‬الصدق‭ ‬والحب‭ ‬والتسامح‭ ‬والعفو‭ ‬والاتحاد‭ ‬والعمل‭ ‬الجاد‭. ‬لقد‭ ‬علموني‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أقف‭ ‬وأدافع‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الحق‭ ‬دائمًا‭ ‬حتي‭ ‬لو‭ ‬كان‭ ‬فيه‭ ‬ضرر‭ ‬لي‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لمن‭ ‬أحب،‭ ‬لأن‭ ‬الصمت‭ ‬في‭ ‬وجه‭ ‬الظلم‭ ‬جريمة‭ ‬شنيعةٌ‭ ‬تمامًا‭ ‬كالجريمة‭ ‬الحقيقيّة‭. ‬تلك‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬هي‭ ‬التي‭ ‬جعلتني‭ ‬ما‭ ‬أنا‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬الآن‭. ‬تلك‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬هي‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬التي‭ ‬بُنيت‭ ‬عليها‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الدولة‭ ‬الحريةوالمساواة‭ ‬والإخاء‭ ‬للجميع‭.‬

لقد‭ ‬حان‭ ‬الوقت‭ ‬للتصدي‭ ‬لتلك‭ ‬السردّيات‭ ‬وإصلاحها‭ ‬وإزالة‭ ‬الخداع‭ . ‬فالأمريكي‭ ‬ليس‭ ‬بلون‭ ‬جلده،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬دينه،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬تصنيفه‭. ‬الأمريكي‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الشخص‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يتصرف‭ ‬وفقًا‭ ‬للقيم‭ ‬التي‭ ‬بُنيت‭ ‬عليها‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الدولة‭. ‬ولا‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬السكوت‭ ‬أمام‭ ‬سماع‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬السردّيات‭ ‬الخاطئة‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجةٍ‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬الخروج‭ ‬وتمثيل‭ ‬أنفسنا‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نُظهر‭ ‬للعالم‭ ‬أجمع‭ ‬حقيقتنا‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬نحن‭ ‬حقًا‭. ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬قصتنا‭ ‬مبنيةً‭ ‬على‭ ‬التغيير‭ ‬الحقيقي‭. ‬فنحن‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نبني‭ ‬زيفًا‭ ‬وخداعًا‭ ‬أخر‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬إخفاء‭ ‬الخداع‭ ‬الممارس‭ ‬ضدنا‭. ‬ليس‭ ‬كافيًا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬بوضع‭ ‬الصور‭ ‬المُبتسمة‭ ‬في‭ ‬وسائل‭ ‬التواصل‭ ‬الاجتماعي،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نخرج‭ ‬في‭ ‬مسيراتٍ،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬بخبز‭ ‬الكعك‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬بيعها‭ ‬محليًا‭. ‬جميع‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الأفكار‭ ‬هي‭ ‬أفكارٌ‭ ‬جيدة‭ ‬ولكنّها‭ ‬ليست‭ ‬كافية،‭ ‬إنها‭ ‬في‭ ‬النهاية‭ ‬مُجرد‭ ‬رموز‭.‬

التغيير‭ ‬الحقيقي‭ ‬يبدأ‭ ‬من‭ ‬داخلنا‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬بحاجةٍ‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬تثقيف‭ ‬أنفسنا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬النظام‭ ‬السياسي‭ ‬أولًا،‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نعرف‭ ‬مُمثلينا،‭ ‬وأن‭ ‬نتعلم‭ ‬الطرق‭ ‬المُختلفة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلالها‭ ‬مشاركة‭ ‬اصواتنا‭ ‬سياسيًا‭. ‬

الخطوة‭ ‬الثانية‭ ‬هي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نفهم‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬السرديات‭ ‬ولماذا‭ ‬يتقبلها‭ ‬الناس‭. ‬مُعظم‭ ‬الأحيان؛‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬نتيجةً‭ ‬لانعدام‭ ‬الأمان‭. ‬فالناس‭ ‬تخاف‭ ‬ما‭ ‬لاتعرفه‭. ‬وبتلك‭ ‬المعرفة،‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نعرف‭ ‬المكان‭ ‬الأفضل‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يحتاج‭ ‬دعمًا‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬في‭ ‬الوقت‭ ‬الراهن‭. ‬بمجرد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نعرف‭ ‬موطن‭ ‬الحاجة‭ ‬في‭ ‬مُجتمعاتنا‭ ‬المحلية،‭ ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬الخروج‭ ‬وملء‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬العجز‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬مكان‭ ‬السردّيات‭ ‬الخاطئة،‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬ننشر‭ ‬القصص‭ ‬والسردّيات‭ ‬الإيجابية‭. ‬يُمكننا‭ ‬القيام‭ ‬بذلك‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬ممارسة‭ ‬ما‭ ‬نعظ‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬به،‭ ‬والقيم‭ ‬التي‭ ‬نتمني‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نراها‭ ‬في‭ ‬الأخرين‭.‬

دورنا‭ ‬كأمريكيّن‭ ‬هو‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نطالب‭ ‬بالحرية،‭ ‬والإخاء‭ ‬والمُساواة‭ ‬للجميع‭. ‬ونحن‭ ‬لن‭ ‬نسكت‭ ‬أمام‭ ‬رموز‭ ‬الكراهية‭ ‬وعدم‭ ‬التسامح‭. ‬لن‭ ‬نسكت‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الروايات‭ ‬والقصص‭ ‬الخاطئة‭ ‬عنا‭. ‬ولن‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬بخلق‭ ‬أي‭ ‬صورةٍ‭ ‬لتتناسب‭ ‬مع‭ ‬القالب‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬رسموه‭ ‬لنا؛‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬نستمر‭ ‬في‭ ‬ممارسة‭ ‬هويّتنا‭ ‬الحقيقية،‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬مشاركة‭ ‬ونشر‭ ‬جمالها‭ ‬مع‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬المُحيطين‭ ‬بنا‭.‬