Breaking American-Made Stereotypes of Muslim Men and Women

by

Before this class and my previous UCORE class with Dr. Segall, I’ll admit that I had my stereotypes of men women from the Middle East built up and influenced by the American media. Unfortunately many Americans have negative views of Muslim people post-9/11, so I have grown up in an age of racism and inequality. When I used to see a veiled Muslim woman, I would automatically feel sympathy for her because I assumed that they are oppressed and don’t have a voice in their families and communities. When I would see a Muslim man, I would have negative thoughts cross my mind, which I am now ashamed by.

I have learned throughout the entirety of my freshman year that it is unfair to make assumptions about others based on superficial things like religion or race. Yes, they are important, but not when it comes to judging their character. While watching films like The Wedding Song, I was thrown off by the fact that the Jewish girl was the one who was being forced into a marriage that she didn’t want because I automatically assumed that it would be the “oppressed” Muslim girl. I have learned that the veil can serve as a sign of strength and respect towards a woman’s family. While in my UCORE class, we watched a documentary about a community whose only means of life, their crops, were being threatened. The main person being interviewed was a middle-aged man who was so incredibly sweet and passionate about those around him that I actually teared up when he talked about emotional situations. He automatically broke all stereotypes that I had built up about Muslim men.

While learning more about the Middle East, I have learned that it is my duty as a Christian to love everyone in this world, regardless of our differences. It was completely unfair of me to look at someone and automatically have negative thoughts go through my head. Ever since I have let go of those negative thoughts, I have actually been able to get to know some amazing people by letting my guard down and treating them the same way that I would treat others that I have more “in common” with. I believe that Americans and Christians who have stereotypes about Muslims built up need to let go of those thoughts and feelings and become more educated about the facts regarding the culture in the Middle East. Not every Muslim living in the Middle East is part of the Taliban and many disagree with violence. I strongly believe that if Americans actually open their minds to facts and real stories, many unfair assumptions and racist feelings will finally be put to rest.

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