"You're Arab American?"
"Yep." I nod, knowing what they'll say next.
"I never would've guessed. You don't even look Arab."
"That's what people tell me," I say with a smile, shrugging my shoulders. Over the years, I've played with different responses, having heard this reaction innumerable times from both Arabs and non-Arabs...
Take a look at me reading from my thesis, a memoir-in-progress, that tells the story about a 30-something woman (me) who gets married assuming she’ll have kids, but then considers living childfree. To grapple with her decision, she writes letters to the child she has not conceived. Since my husband is named Bear, I call this project “Dear Cub.” This snippet is a tribute to Bear’s grandmother, Tita.
Filmed at the University of Southern California in May 2015.
I’m honored to have been chosen to be part of the panel entitled, “Writing the Mixed Experience Professionally.” I’ll do my best to represent as a mixed-heritage Arab American writer! Come join in on the fun!
To hear me interviewed about the article on the podcast Popaganda, click here.
I look at how Jeannie, from the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, started off as an over-the-top Arab stereotype, but over the show’s five-year run was forced to assimilate due to pressure from network executives who wanted her to be more “likeable,” i.e. American. I also break down how Orientalism helped ratings and why, even though Jeannie calls Tony “Master,” she can be read as a feminist, transgressive character.