I’d like to give you my number, but that would be way too forward and Arab of me. So I won’t.
Congratulations. We are proud of you. Arab-Americans are very excited about your win. We had viewing parties. We all started calling and texting each other as soon as you won. I was at an after-party for a comedy show I did last night. All the attention was on me. Then my phone (and everyone else’s) started blowing up. “Hey everyone, that Arab girl won Miss USA… Why are we here again? Amer who?” I’ve never been upstaged by someone in a different city. But it’s OK, I forgive you. Don’t let it happen again. We don’t get to celebrate like this very often. So for that, we thank you.
And tell Donald Trump we claim him too. Sharp suits, great hair, declaring bankruptcy and still driving around in $100,000 cars… he’s one of us!
We live in a funny time. Arabs in America are seen as suspect. Our existence is highly politicized. Everything we do, good or bad, has a lot of gravity to it. Your win is no exception. For every column congratulating you, there is another expressing outrage. There are those who denounce your win as “affirmative action,” “Islamo-pandering,” and so on. Since your roots are Arab and Muslim, many people will see your win as un-American, as some sort of threat to the working order of things.
See Rima, racism against us is different. When white people see blacks or Latinos, they’re afraid they might lose their purse. When they see us, they’re afraid they might lose their freedom! And people will give up their purse, but they might kill for their freedom.
So your win means something more, even if you don’t want it to. In this age where we are fighting for an identity, trying to get a box on the census form, attempting to withstand the impending theft of hummus, and having to prove our patriotism over and over, you are now a symbol. So, congratulations… embrace it.
You have become one of our jewels. You will get invited to Arab events all over the country now, although maybe not too many Islamic ones. I’m not sure those bikini photos will go over too well with CAIR, the Council on America-Islamic Relations. I don’t think those are the “relations” they’re referring to. By the way, if you need some arm candy for any of those events, let me know, I’ll free up my busy calendar.
But while we are ecstatic over your win, we’re not really surprised. We Arab-Americans are smart and beautiful. We have some of the highest rates of college graduation of any ethnic group. We have a doctor in every family, or so it seems, even though our women exaggerate about it a little bit. I’ve had this conversation before:
Me: “What does your son do?”
Proud Arab Mom: “My son? Oh, my son doctor.”
Me: “Oh, what’s his specialty.”
Proud Arab Mom: “Well, he doesn’t have specialty yet.”
Me: “Oh, ok… where does he go to medical school.”
Proud Arab Mom: “Well… Umm… he doesn’t go to medical school yet.”
Proud Arab Mom: “He’s 8. But he’s gonna be doctor.”
And your win is a little racially ironic. You competed against a few black, Latina, and Asian women, and lots and lots of white women. Of course, if any non-Arab minority won, it would have been celebrated as a moment of American inclusiveness. Your win will spark debates on politics, terrorism, Islam, and the such. And out of all the mintories that were represented there, you’re the only one who the US Census Bureau classifies as white! But of course, we’re not white! And you need to tell them that. On the next census form, they can even call it the Rima Fakih box. I’ll check it.
Our women are better than white women, for a bunch of reasons. Arab women are more family-oriented, highly educated, great cooks, and they never, ever… press charges.
So Rima, congratulations. You are not simply Miss USA Rima Fakih, you are Miss USA Arab-American Rima Fakih. Enjoy it. I’ve always known that Arab women are the perfect combination of beauty and intelligence. Now everyone else does too.
Like I said, I won’t leave my number. That would be pathetic… So e-mail me and I’ll give you my mom’s.