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Download How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Study Guide

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 193

In How Does It Feel to Be a Problem, author Moustafa Bayoumi provides a powerful insight into the complex and varied world of young Arab-Americans living in post 9/11 Brooklyn, NY. Through including the narratives of 7 Arab-Americans from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, and experiences, Bayoumi paints a picture of the complexities for Arab-Americans in navigating everyday life in a country that, in many ways, is openly hostile towards them. Bayoumi's including of varied experiences that all share common themes of racism and discrimination highlights the broad scope and scale of the anti-Arab response in the United States that followed the 9/11 attacks. Through these insights into people's lives and through reading the ways in which people suffered everyday oppression simply for being of Arab ancestry/identity, Bayoumi humanizes Arab people who are far too often the victims of hate crimes and racist assumptions. The title of the book is also a reference to W.E.B. Du Bois's book, The Souls of Black Folk, in which Du Bois questions how young black people feel being constantly described as a problem simply for being black. In this context, Bayoumi is addressing a similar struggle for young Arab-Americans.

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