Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: How Does it Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi

How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi (Penguin Press HC, The, Hardcover, 9781594201769, 304pp.)

The author relates the stories of seven Arab-American youth from Brooklyn, New York.

It's hard for me to relate to the stories in this book because I'm much older than the subjects, I've never lived in a place with a lot of Arabs (or great ethnic diversity) and I've never had the family, financial and legal struggles many of them had.

Nevertheless, the stories were engaging, and I read the book quickly. Each subject's story made me think about things differently, and I suspect each reader would draw unique lessons for himself or herself.

If you are part of a masjid or church administration or other organization which claims to serve youth, reading this book would help you understand youth concerns and hopefully drive from your mind a single image of what Arab youth and families "look" like.

The title is based on a passage from W.E.B. DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk. Again, until we Muslims, especially post Civil Rights-era immigrants and their descendants, come to understand and support the struggles of non-European peoples in the Americas, we won't be able to understand our own situation.

NPR broadcast Professor Moustafa's reading of the book and brief comments.