Saturday, December 30, 2006

Issues of race - with an international flavor

Tarek "started" it about two weeks ago with a post titled "Gorgeous by the Media" - in which he offers his opinions on the beauty of Halle Berry and Beyoncé. The post made some references to alleged racism by society and the media.

Intrigued by the post, I wrote a couple of comments. It wasn't long before a reader known as Amre commented on my site as well as on Tarek's. Amre suggested that those of Arab heritage needed to look at how they perpetuate racism before hurling allegations at others.

Tarek just wrote a follow-up post, Black and White. In it, he summarized the issues at hand. But it was how he began his post that was the most compelling:

Are we racists!? Do you really think, we, Arabs, are racists!

I will say that I have observed that some Arabs - and I emphasize the word "some" - can be condescending to people of other cultures. Often, it's subtle rather than overt.

When it comes to who is prettier, Halle Berry or Beyoncé, I think it’s merely a matter of taste. Tarek thinks Beyoncé is hot and that Halle is not. To argue with him seriously would be silly. I do think that Tarek overstates the case that the media is responsible for Halle's popularity. Halle has been working at her craft for a long time in an industry full of pretty women. Frankly, I think Halle has more depth than Beyoncé, but somehow I don't think Tarek is looking for depth. ;-)

I find it interesting that Tarek couldn't just write a post about which celebrity is prettier. He had to bring the issue of race into it. Then Amre posted his own comment on my site. For me, here is the most interesting part:

One more thing in case you are african american. I have to tell you that the ancient Egyptians were not black people. They were just like the contemporary ones of an arab or middle eastern material.

Let me get this right. We all are descendants from Adam and Eve, but people of color can't claim ancient Egyptians as part of their heritage?? The sad thing is that Amre obviously doesn't see the truckload of biases this comment carries.

Are Arabs racists? The question remains open for discussion. Kudos to Tarek for having the courage to put the issue out there.

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Arima said...

I started following this discussion from Tarek's this is my first time to your blog and I love it!

In general terms, I think Arabs can be as racist as other ethnic groups in the world. The only problem is that we are all silent about it. In America there is MORE racism than Arab countries, but if a white man insults a black man, the white man would be in serious trouble. With Arabs, if an white Arab calls a black Arab "3abeed" (slave), nobody says anything about it, it is condoned. I know this is the case for Arab North Africa especially.

In the Gulf it is different, they don't say "3abeed", and the black Arabs there are respected. For Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan it is different because there are not many blacks, but if there are they are usually called "Sudani".
Racism and all kinds of discrimination always have and always will exist around the world.

It's an ugly side of human nature. We have to learn to overcome it but it is still always there under the surface. In some ways it's kind of natural. In terms of human evolution, we probably had to be somewhat fearful of people and things that were different... a survival instinct I guess that has now become redundant but yet we cling on to it.

Islam released slaves from slavery 14 centuries ago. Its first caller to prayer (mo’athen) was Bilal, a black whom the prophet released from slavery and Islam teaches us that we are all creatures of Allah and the only difference between us in the eyes of Allah are our good intentions and piety.

I personally believe that every single human being is raised with some sort of prejudice and racism. It is the culture they live in that corrects this nature.

Amre El-Abyad said...

Following up on your post and Arimas comment, i would like to clear out som facts that are not clear due to current detriorating state of the once briliant Arab Culture.
Please make sure that in my argument am going to be utterly abstract. And i wont try to project my own prejuduces into the discussion. As, i have a dark white skin, however definetly am not white in the western defintion of white. I have a very black hair, thick bushy balck eyebrows an elegent arabian physique,magnetic black eyes and an intellectual and emotional state that is imposiibel for a white, black or mongoloid human being to understand........

Secondly, am not privileged in Egypt, i come from an ordinary middle class familly that have to work very hard in order to secure a decent living!!

concerning your question about people of colour claims to ancient egyptian heritage.

No my dear lady, people of colour has absolutly no right whatsoever to claim the ancient egyptian heritage. Only egyptians can...

Not because the black people are not worthy of it.. Simply it is not true.......

why look so far while things are so obvious?

we all know very well that history is writen by the conquerer and there is a systematic tendency among mainstream western scholras to write off the arabic contributions to humant and disregard as much as academic integrity allows. The babylonian and someric influence on the greeks is diregarded. However, the former argument is not applicable as far as the indo_European Aryan PERSIAN CULTURE is concerned. And the ancient Egyptian civilisation is degraded and put aside as either a new age thing, Afrocentric hallucinations, scifi, or simply a mere oddity more or less!

We all know that the Somerians the Babylonians, Phoenecians, Ammorites, Egyptians were all great civilsations that grew and flourished within almost the same time span within the same geographical boundaries and geopolitical system in the ancient world thousands of years ago.

They all interacted and influenced among eachother.
Untill the entire middle eastern fell a prey to the greco roman dominance and allien persian colonism of mesoptmia.

The barbaric persians adopted babylonian and mesoptamian culture and learning which forms the entire persian legacy(untill the semitic Arabs reurned the favour later, enslaved the persians and imposed their culture on them. The arbic tribes of Arabia rose up consolidated Egypt, North ASfrica, the fetile crescent and Iraq into one cultural system.The arabic culture is the integral summation of the ancient idigenous middle eastern semitic cultures cultures.

As for what is called the Arabs form the Arabian peninsula..the jeudo arabian mythology concieves Ismael the grandfather of the Arabians to be the son of an Egyptian MOTHER HAGER and a banished IRAQUI IBRAHIM!!!!
so from the very first begining and at a subcontial mythological level, arabism is a noble unifying project

The sedentry or yemense or KA7TAN Arabs formed the nucleus of Arabism . Later on, nomadic tribes who were some sort of middle eastern racial and cultural mix were pushed to the desert adopted the ka7tani culture and became the second branch of the Arabs the 3dnanyeen Arabs!

Now after placing the Ancient Egyptian civilsation in its natural and rightful cultural and political context, Without looking into the moon, african jungles, startrec or red indian Astics i will proceed now to state clearly who are the Arabs and who are the Ancient Egyptians, in racial terms....

First of all, yes there are black Arabs in Egypt and everywhere in the Arab world.

But they are a very exceptonal case. In egypt 1% of egyptian poulation is Nubian black and even those are not really black they are more of the Halle type..! plus some very insginifcant black minority spread all over egypt which you cant really detect easily in streets. In the villages they almost vanish.....

Now concerning the people of colour claim. Coloured races is a term coined by the west to denote non european races.....

Sometimes they get confused and mix the original dark white or light brown strains with the offspring of white and black interracial intercourses......

who are the Arabs ?.Here is a ethnological map of the world where the Arabs and the Egyptians are considered mainly of the indigenous authentic araboid and saharid type....

here is a quotation made by one of Napoleon's officers during the french campain against the Arabic orient (Egypt and syria)

"Physically the Arabs are one of the strongest and noblest races of the world. Baron de Larrey, surgeon-general to. Napoleon on his expedition to Egypt and Syria, writes: "Their physical structure is in all respects more perfect than that of Europeans; their organs of sense exquisitely acute, their size above the average of men in general, their figure robust and elegant, their colour brown; their intelligence proportionate to their physical perfection and without doubt superior, other things being equal, to that of other nations." The typical Arab face is of an oval form, leanfeatured; the eyes a brilliant black, deep-set under bushy eyebrows; nose aquiline,. forehead straight but not high. In body the Arab is muscular and long-limbed, but lean. Deformed individuals or dwarfs are rare among Arabs; nor, except leprosy, which is common, does any disease seem to be hereditary among them. They often suffer from ophthalmia.

They are scrupulously clean in their persons, and take special care of their teeth, which are generally white and even. Simple and abstemious in their habits, they often reach an extreme yet healthy old age; nor is it common among them for the faculties of the mind to give way sooner than those of the body".

Now concerning the genetics of ancient egyptians: it is clearly identified by various European, American as well as egyptian studies to belong to the western euro-Asian group (Arabs, middle easterns)....... check the folowing link

Moreover any african american claim to ancient Egyptian heritage is consdered an act of aggression and a deliberate harm inflicted on the entire arabic nation.... why ?

I will start by giving two examples. First if we look at India, then i would like to remind you that in india they have 1500 languages and many of them dont even originate from similar Origin !!! The indians themselves are a racial salad Indo_ Iranyans and germaics in the north, Turko tartaric and mongoloids in the east and the west as well as Aboriginal Autraloidic Dravidians in the south..

in china they have 4 languages and several ethnicities mandolen in the North, cantonese in the South, Tartaric in the west..! as well as obvious physical appearance dfferences all over the chinese provinces.

Now compare the Sieno-Indian rise with the unnaturally misereble state of the brilliant Arabs. They have one languages with no significant dialectic varriations, they have a common 8ooo years old history, one socio-cultural system, smae religon, Oreintal churches in Syria(Syrianics), Egypt (copts), Iraq(Assyrians) share the same theological doctrines, therest of the Arabs are ofcourse Muslims........

Moreover genetically and racially they all fall within the same spectrum... middle eastern western euroasian types with skin colour that ranges from dark white to light brown. With some blond and black insignificant exceptions.

In spite of all this, they are deprived of their right to become one nation......

why ?

Well, without resorting to fanatic conspiracy theory hallucinations, can you imagine a nation of 300 million with an independent authentic non western culture that holds the mose important stratigic position in theworld at the intersction of the 3 old continents, that contains all the energy reserves of the world, self sufficiency in all known mineral and natural resources almost its entire cultural heritage, a proud poulation of unique intellectual and physical traits......


Naomi said...

Arima, you have provided so much insight into the Arab culture. Thank you so much. I have learned so much today, and I am sure other readers have, also. Your comments serve as a great public service.

I agree with you 100% that all humans by nature have the natural inclination to be biased. I understand what you are saying about the lack of consequences for those who practice racism in the Arab culture. I understand about the silence.

In the United States we have laws on the books that make racism unlawful, but don't be misled. Racism is very much alive and well here. For the most part, it is more subtle now. It's systemized and systemic. It is subtly built into American communities, corporate policy and our culture. Unless one is educated on how to identify systemized racism, he or she may be misled to think all is well.

In the end, we all suffer as long as racism thrives. Obviously, it is not fair to those who are targeted. Those who practice racism, in my humble opinion, are trapped in their own little mental prisons. Racists operate out of fear and irrationality.

By the way, I appreciate your kind words about my site. I have visited yours, and it is simply awesome!

Naomi said...

Amre, because your comment was so full of information, I took time to review what you shared. You are clearly a very passionate person, and I respect that. It is clear that you spent a lot of time composing your response.

Please bear with me as I share my own thoughts.

1. I think Arabs have much to be proud of - from historical and contemporary perspectives.

2. I find it interesting that you reference I read through Richard McCulloch's writings. This man is considered by many to be a white nationalist. At the very least, McCulloch considers himself to be an advocate for the "preservation" of the Nordish (Northern European) race. McCulloch promotes a separation of the races.

Even though I haven't read McCulloch's writings word for word, but I think I've read enough. He hardly seems to be the scholarly type. I did some research to see how many people in academia have cited his work. Almost no one has.

I am surprised that you did not offer a scholarly work by an oft-cited educator or researcher, perhaps an Arab scholar. It might have carried more weight and credibility.

3. is a dead link

4. I'm glad you brought up Ishmael (Ismail), Hagar and Ibrahim (Abraham). Why? Because my son's name is Ishmael. I know the story quite well. God blessed Hagar, Ishmael's Egyptian mother, through their trials and rescued both the child and his mother when they were in the desert.

4. As to your opinion as to who - and who may not - claim Egyptians as their ancestors, I disagree - with all due respect to you. It does no good for you and me to debate this. Instead, I am praying that God further enlightens me in this area. In that way, I hope to stay within God's will.

Amre, thanks again for the conversation you have sparked. Happy New Year to you!

Tarek said...

Thanks for creating this post Naomi. Hope that subject is clearer now

Naomi said...

Tarek, a lot of things are clearer now. I learn a lot in discussions like this one. Thank you. :-)

Juka said...

I'm leaning towards Arima's views on the issue. Arabs are racist (me myself being an Arab) only within the extent that all of mankind are racist. What varies here is the extent to which this racism is acknowledged or publicised.

We as human beings strive to find differences between us rather than bonds that we share. We are classist, sexist, racist and any other kind of discrimanationary state that you can think off because we have an inherent need to feel superior to others through putting those others down.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Cool blog.

Arima said...

thanks naomi

Amre said...

Thanx Naomi for the interetesting discussion. Hope i didnt offend you with my views. I have all respect to all cultures and races, but definetly i prefer my own race that happens to be under a brutal cosmopolitan crusade at the Present. So, we have to know very clearly who we are, and be very proud of our merits in order to regain our rightful natural status. Then, i assure you that i won't mind the Pharoas being from Atlantis........

Naomi said...

Juka, thanks for offering your thoughts on this topic. I couldn't have said it better myself.

"Lord have mercy on us all." Amen!

By the way, thanks for your kind words about my blog. I like yours, too!


Arima, thank YOU. :-)


Amre, I was hoping you would return to wrap up this discussion. You did not offend me at all. You introduced us to A LOT of information.

I certainly would not fault anyone for preferring their own race. I think most of us do. I get a little concerned when one group of people considers itself to be the master race. I'm not sure that's what God had in mind when He created mankind.

In the Christian Holy Bible, the Apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus, writes:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
(Romans 12:2,3)

I try to live by these words.

Amre, I hope you will continue to stop by from time to time. Have a wonderful week.

Alina said...

I believe all peoples and all races can be affected by prejudices and racism at a certain point. The weaker and more impressionable ones will always fall into such wrong beliefs, gender wise, color wise, you name it. I do think it depends on us alone to control, debate and dismiss such thoughts.

As for who is prettier, well, this is totally a question of taste...I happen to like Halle more, simply because she has a better use of English grammar when compared to Beyonce...

Naomi said...

Well said, Alina.