Arab-Americans need a box on the US Census Form!
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(& Smartest) Arab
May 14th, 2014 (11 Comments)
I have been saying for a fairly long time that we Arabs are not white, despite both our lack of a box on the census form and the fact that we are classified as “white” by the American government. Yes, white people, according to the federal government, we are you!
For the past year or so, I have been in the process of making a documentary called “We’re Not White” that will explore this whole issue. It should be finished any day now. (If I actually were white, I would have a solid release date, but I’m an Arab, so for the past six months, the release date has been “soon.”)
Throughout my lifetime of interacting with and observing white people, I have been able to come to a solid conclusion:
Being white is pretty awesome.
White people, and white guys especially, get to live in a completely different world than the rest of us. I have compiled a short (and surely incomplete) list as to why being white is so fabulous.
When you’re white, you never have to say, “Well, of course we don’t all think like that.” Whenever a “disturbed,” “deranged, “ or “delusional” white guy does something crazy (which seems to happen often), CNN never interviews influential white people concerning their reactions to how someone who looks like them could do something so terrible.
The white kids I grew up with got a new brown lunch bag every day. I had to bring home my brown lunch bag to be re-used the next day. And if I didn’t, I was going to lunch with one of those 500 plastic grocery bags that my mom had saved up. And don’t even get me started on the kids with lunchboxes. I was never getting one of those. Why would my mom pay $20 for an A-Team plastic lunchbox when I could have a Pathmark plastic lunch bag for free?
Also, again, whenever a “disturbed,” “deranged, “ or “delusional” white guy does something crazy (which, again, seems to happen often), white get people get to say, “Well, we just never thought this would happen in our community.” We never get to say this kind of stuff. If someone in my Arab neighborhood of Dearborn got arrested for food stamp fraud, I would never say, “Well, I just never thought this would happen in my community.” That’s exactly the kind of thing I think would happen in my community. But white people get to say it, even though “their” community is the only community “their” kind of stuff ever happens in.
White people tell the truth to each other. In my culture, we routinely lie as a matter of social convention. For instance, if I’m at my white friend’s house and his mom asks me if I’m hungry, I politely say “no,” although I am, in fact, hungry. As it turns out, white moms don’t ask again. Also, when my white friends visit me, at some point later in the evening, they eventually indicate that they should leave My cultural reflex is to tell them, “No, please, stay longer.” As it turns out, they actually stay longer. Imagine how awkward it is to explain to your white friends that “no” means “yes” and “stay” means “go.” White people might think Arabs lie a lot, but most of the time it’s because we are just being polite.
White people get to say, “That’s reverse racism!” We all know that racism is bad, and putting the word “reverse” in front of it somehow makes it sound even worse. It’s almost as if white people want to be victims of racism, just so they can be part of the club. Of course, “reverse racism” is just when very few white people rarely feel what all the rest of us feel all the time. Now, one might ask, why don’t white people just say “racism”? This is because they know what “forward racism” looks like. They invented it. And they know it’s not the same thing. But if white people are suffering from “reverse racism,” then they are also suffering from “reverse poverty,” “reverse income inequality,” and “reverse racial profiling.” And as it turns out, those things really aren’t that bad.
A white guy can grow a beard whenever he likes. Now, I don’t mean he necessarily has the ability, but he does have the option. When an Arab grows a beard, he ends on up on the No-Fly List. When a white guy does it, he ends up on “Duck Dynasty.”
But, by far, the best thing about being white is that white guys don’t have the ability to mess it up for other white guys. You see, if I perform somewhere and I’m not that funny, the audience might not go see the next Arab American comedian who swings through town. If Barack Obama were to ever experience a scandal, and I mean a real scandal, not the IRS, or NSA, or Benghazi, I mean something like a baby momma… If that ever happened, no other black guy ever could ever be president ever again. But George W. Bush started a war based on evidence he got from Make-Believe-istan. Almost 40,000 Americans have been killed or wounded. But that didn’t stop John McCain, Mitt Romney, or a litany of other white guys from running for president. We all know what Bill Clinton did… and if term limits didn’t exist, he would still be president today.
So, being white is clearly the most awesome thing to be. I wish I were, but I’m just not. I know I’m not white for one simple reason: white people don’t think I’m white. That’s the real test. Whenever I meet a new white guy, he thinks I’m white until he hears my name. That’s usually the best 30 seconds of our relationship.