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Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 162

The themes of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America include racism, discrimination, islamophobia, government oppression, xenophobia, post-9/11 fear, and resiliency. In this nonfiction book, Moustafa Bayoumi follows the lives of seven Arab-American youth living in Brooklyn, NY, in the anti-Arab climate of the United States following the 9/11 attacks. The above listed themes are explored through the narratives and experiences of the young people Bayoumi interviews. All of the Arab-American youth experience discrimination as they navigate their everyday lives in a country filled with fear-based hatred. Bayoumi intentionally chooses young Arab-American people who share common experiences but also face unique challenges. For instance, the diverse challenges and oppression they face include imprisonment, workplace discrimination, school discrimination, ostracizing from both non-Arab and Arab communities, and familial upheaval. The seven young Arab-Americans represent a diverse community of people who must face overlapping and unique challenges in their struggle for equality and social justice in the United States.

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