People of mixed ethnicities and cultures often find themselves caught in the middle of an ongoing inward and outward battle. Growing up ingrained in multiple cultures creates a complex dynamic of uncertainty and doubt. Questions of identity and expectation plague your consciousness and often lead to a pervading sense of alienation. People also face society’s question of who they are and who they must be. However, we must understand that we as people are not dictated by society’s definition of our identity, rather, we are intricate products of a diverse array of cultures, traditions, and customs. There is not a single definition of who you are, and we continually find ourselves attempting to fit into a set of descriptions created by those whose knowledge of different identities is limited to specific cultural norms.
Being from the Middle East and living in the United States has been a great challenge. The stereotype of Arabs as terrorist and uneducated people is greatly prevalent in the States, and I have heard all kinds of vile and cruel jokes and statements from people who only know these stereotypes. However, I live as an example of someone rising above stereotype and expectation. I refuse to allow preconceived notions to hold me down. So many Arabs are living testaments to the intellect, innovation, and ability of our people. We are doctors, engineers, scientists, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, families. We continue to prove over and over again that we can rise above hate and hold true to ourselves. Our culture is rich with history, art, music, tradition, and holds memories from many centuries.
The Iraqi civilization has existed for more than 10,000 years. We have some of the oldest originally standing architecture. While Western nations continue to think of us as uncivilized, uneducated, and poor people, we present these magnificent works. The Sumerian language, the oldest discovered written language, took root in Iraq. For many centuries, we were the most advanced society in the world.
By Jim Gordon – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3658486
Maroulis, Nick. Ctesiphon,_Iraq_(2117465493). August 31, 2014. Photo. https://www.flickr.com/photos/maroulisnick/15069361306/.
Stanley, David. Ishtar Gate. April 6, 2016. Photo. https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidstanleytravel/30569976215/.