This past Monday, the first ever Muslim American was crowned Miss USA. Rima Fakih, 24, hails from Dearborn, Michigan and is of Lebanese descent.
Many consider her not only the first Muslim American, but also the first Arab American to win the pageant. Miss USA 1983’s winner, Julie Hayek, technically has Lebanese roots from her father, but Fakih is the first to publically identify.
The sensitivities after 9/11 make Fakih’s win a win for all Muslim and Arab Americans; many feel that it symbolizes a step in the right direction.
“The fear that people had implanted since 9/11, maybe what I did can show people that, you know what, who cares what ethnicity you are,” Fakih states.
Not only did the residents of her hometown celebrate Monday, but Arab Americans nationwide, from pockets of New York City to Little Arabia in Anaheim, CA. They are celebrating national recognition and acceptance of Arab American beauty and culture.
“This sends a signal that we’re part and parcel of this great country … this is a part of being American,” Mohamad Dbouk, a Dearborn restaurant manager said.
The fact that this ethnic group, which is consistently stereotyped and constantly in political talks, finds itself in the commercial spotlight of Miss USA is outstanding and refreshing. It shows that The American Dream still exists; you can be an immigrant of this country and come out successful.
Fakih says it best, “Everyone should be proud of who they are and where they come from because America is a big melting pot of diverse ethnicities. It’s great to be part of this wonderful country.”
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As many have heard, this past Saturday, April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, along with many other dignitaries of Poland, died in a tragic plane crash. The 96 victims, comprising military, religious and government officials, were on their way to Katyn, Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish officers by Soviet forces.
In an article by Sophia Tareen of the Associated Press, Blanche Weigand, whose mother immigrated from Poland to Chicago in 1950 said, “It was like losing a family member. I’m from Chicago, but my heart is in Poland.”
This tragedy had a global reach, touching not only those in Poland and Russia, but immigrants worldwide who remained strongly tied to their homeland. I personally have seen the accident’s affect firsthand through my work with Polish American media vendors.
To be aware of critical current affairs and significant historical events allows you to connect closer with people. In marketing, it helps with business relations, recruitment messaging, and overall communication efforts. Having this perspective and understanding is critical in making a true connection to a community, whether it be Polish Americans or another ethnic group.
So now that the Census campaign is out there, the real discussions have begun. Many people, organizations, and media companies have critical eyes on the Census advertising campaign, its advertisers, & the even the process in which the data is collected. But one topic that has and will probably always dominate “water cooler” conversations about the Census, simply put, is ethnicity—the labeling system that the federal government currently has in place to differentiate people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Recently, I’ve been following the Society of Professional Journalists Blog Network. They have an eclectic selection of topical pieces & they usually have some pretty interesting stuff. A couple days ago, they posted a new blog called Writing “Hispanic” vs “Latino” in the Who’s News Diversity Every Day section. The author talked about how the government has placed a title onto an ethnic group that didn’t resonate well within the community. Though the piece focused on the Latino community; the sentiment that the government lacks cultural understanding towards ethnic groups is not exclusive to Latinos.
Now I know almost everyone in this country answers the question “what is your heritage?” with “I’m part this and part that, and a little bit of this”, but I, myself am multicultural. My mother is Panamanian and I’ve spent much time with my family in Panama. I’ve been exposed & submersed in the culture enough that I truly see myself as part of the ethnic community. I’ve also come across enough people in Panama to know that most Panamanians see themselves as Latinos, not Hispanic, no matter their heritable connections to Spain. That as it may be, I, an American with a cultural connection to Panama, views myself as Hispanic.
While the piece mentioned above focuses on the Latino community, we should take this concept of lack of cultural understanding and apply it to another ethnic group. Take the Middle Eastern communities for example. At Allied Media Corp, one of our primary audiences is the Middle Eastern markets. This is how we describe it in short to our clients, though in reality, to describe this ethnic group one would need to be much more precise. If you were to attempt to convince a person from Egypt, an Arab nation-state, that they should be ethnically categorized with a person from Iran, a Persian nation-state, you would be unsuccessful. There are distinct differences in language & culture between the many cultural groups that comprise the Middle Eastern and to officially categorize them as one group would be considered incorrect by their standards. Though these communities share this common view, attempts have been made to solve the problem of the lack of ethnic representation in federal surveys by grouping them under one collective group.
Now we can argue until we’re blue in the face as to how to identify the many different ethnic groups, but we’ll leave that for another time. Right now, we should focus on finding an immediate solution to the query at hand. True, the largest federal survey in the United States is about to take place & true, there are issues/limitations on how to identify ourselves in this survey. My suggestion, let’s not argue about what should have been done & let’s focus on what needs to be done. When filling out a federal survey, think about your ethnic roots. If you don’t clearly see yourself in any of the listed categories, mark yourself as “other” and write out your heritage. This way you are able to clearly distinguish yourself from any group that you don’t fully relate with & you can properly represent your community.
The Afghanistan national cricket team won the 12 nation Asian Twenty20 Cup in Dubai on November 30th after defeating The United Arab Emirates by 84 runs. In the days prior to this victory, Afghanistan defeated China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia. This impressive performance has brought pride to the Afghan people in a way that no other sports team has been able to in the past.
In 1995, the Afghanistan Cricket Federations was formed in the capital city of Kabul with a very limited number of players. In 2001, it was promoted to a national team and later became a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Asian Cricket Council (ACC.) In 2004, the team became more popular among the Afghans both in-country and abroad when they made their first international appearance at the Asian Cricket Council.
Cricket was first played by the British troops in Kabul in 1839, however it never took hold among native Afghans. Almost a century and a half later, the Russian invasion drove many Afghans into Pakistan, where they were not allowed to join domestic Pakistani teams. Still, the younger Afghan refugees were so impressed with the sport that they planned to start a team in Afghanistan. Now, the team has adequate facilities to play and a receptive audience to cheer them on!
Abdul Raouf Reshtin
Allied Media Corp.