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June 09, 1989 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1989-06-09

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PERSPECTIVES

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

Wade censord:
Black Americans are denied

By Kalyn Johnson

T WO WEEKS ago, The Detroit
News ran a syndicated piece by
Lawrence Wade entitled, America
Owes Me Only What Everyone
Gets. Wade opposed the $40-billion
education fund introduced in
Congress to compensate Afro-
Americans for the injustices endured
by their ancestors during slavery.
The proposal, in the form of a reso-
lution, was passed by the Detroit
City Council on May 17 and has
been recommended for state-wide ap-
proval. Wade presents a personal ar-
gument in his article which begins,
"America owes this Black man noth-
ing," and continues with attacks on
Black leaders and Affirmative Action
policies in this country. This is one
Black woman who disagrees with
Wade's assertions.
He argues from the perspective of
an "educated" Black man- an elitist
position at best- and camouflages
the experience and struggle of other
Black people who have been denied

basic rights to housing, education Black people everyday because the Action and the current $40-billion
and healthcare. Wade's reliance on ideals and stereotypes espoused dur- education fund before Congress.
federal laws, or the judicial system, ing slavery are still present in our Wade's idyllic conception of the
to correct fundamental inequities in society. world and the United State's role
our society is unsubstantiated based For example, the one test- the therein is reminiscent of the blind
on the continuum of racist incidents SAT- that most college bound se- patriotism that allowed Japanese-
across the nation and on our own niors are required to take is saturated Americans to be interned in concen-
campus. Obviously the "law" is not with cultural specific language and tration camps during WWII.
providing equal protection. experience. Not only is the test itself Ironically, an initiative similar to
Although everyone is "supposed" biased, but also is its basis for cre- the educational fund proposal was
to be able to attain the great ation. passed last year by Congress in the
American "dream" that Wade alludes In 1923, Carl Campbell Brigham, form of a reparations bill which fi-
to, not everyone gets an equal chance founder of the SAT, stated, "We nancially compensated Japanese-
to realize this utopian goal. Because
of this imbalance, there must be sys- 'There are obstacles placed before Black people
tem-wide changes, such as everyday because the ideals and stereotypes espoused
Affirmative Action, Bi-lingual edu-
cation and HEAD START programs during slavery are still present in our society.'
that facilitate the education -and
growth of peoples in this country must face a possibility of racial ad- Americans who were interned. Since
who have been historically denied mixture here that is infinitely worse this bill was passed with little pub-
these rights. than that faced by any European lic outrage, why is compensation for
Mr. Wade, a Black man living in country today for we are incorporat- Blacks in Wade's viewpoint, such a
Washington, D.C., said in the clos- ing the negro onto our racial stock, hard concept to realize?
ing of his article: "Isn't it time that while all of Europe is comparatively The world, unfortunately, does not
we put this race foolishness behind free from this taint." The retention see Afro-Americans, simply as
us and realized that the world sees us of these types of skewed ideas and "Americans" (to quote Wade).
all as one: American?" The answer is prejudices are what fostered a need Although Black American activists
no. There are obstacles placed before for programs such as Affirmative have tried to aid their brothers and

access
sisters in South Africa and have
asked the United States to impose
sanctions, this country has proved
consistently through policies toward
South Africa that it supports the
privileged few; those who are white
and most often, wealthy.
Finally, if all Americans are
"given" equal opportunities, why is-
it that Black people are underrepre-
sented in every sector of our society
and overrepresented in our prison
system? Once recognition has been
given to the root of the problem-
continued social injustice and
marginalization of Black culture, ex-
perience and existence - we can
work toward creating an equal soci-
ety. The education resolution passed

by the Detroit City Council is a step
in the right direction. It marks the
beginning of rectifying centuries of
benign neglect.
Kalyn Johnson is an LSA senior,
majoring in English. Kalyn will be
a Minority Peer Advisor at Mary
Markley in the Fall.

Prospect article is racist

By the Muslim Students Association

The latest in what seems to be a
series of attacks on the Muslim and
Arab communities in Ann Arbor
occured in the pages of the
March/April 1989 issue of a cam-
pus Jewish magazine, Prospect. In
this last issue, the article, "The
Jews We Forgot," and the accom-
panying box, "Jews in the Moslem,
World," written by Sharon Parrott
and Elissa Sard were racist and of-
fensive to both Muslims and Arabs.
They contained many inaccura-
cies, biases and insults which per-
petuate stereotypes and hurt the
credibility of this voice for Jewish
students on campus. If the views in
this magazine are reflective of
Jewish students on this campus,
then the future prospects of living
without antagonism between the re-
spective communities are indeed
dim.
In the following paragraphs, we
have tried to address a few of the
more glaring problems in the arti-
cle:
1. "The Moslem (sic) world con-
sists of Afghanistan, Algeria,
Bahrein, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan,
Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia,
Turkey, Sudan, Syria and Yemen"
(p. 4). There are approximately 1
billion Muslims today; all the
countries listed above comprise
only about 24 percent of the total

Muslim population (See The
Cultural Atlas of Islam by Ismael
Faruqi and Lois Faruqi).
The fact that all of the countries
the authors have listed are generally
associated with the "Middle East" is
not surprising-it's a common
myth found in U.S. mainstream
media that the Muslim world is
comprised largely of Arab coun-
tries. In reality, Arab people consti-
tute only about 12 percent of all
Muslim peoples; the largest
Muslim nation population-wise is
Indonesia, followed by Pakistan,
and then by either China or
Bangladesh.
- mma

2. "As Arab fundamentalism
grows in Iran, Jews fear what may
come" (p. 5). Iranians are not Arab,
they are Persians. They do not
speak Arabic, but Farsi. A mistake
like this can only be made by a per-
son who is either very ignorant, or
who has a bigoted view of Arabs,
Muslims and Iranians. What the au-
thors probably meant to write was
"As Islamic fundamentalism...."
This is an editorial mistake that has
many implications. It once again
reflects the misconception that all
Arabs are Muslim (& vice versa),
and therefore it is okay to use these
words interchangeably. More signif-
icantly, it assumes that Arabs (and
therefore Muslims) are de facto
- )0'

threats to Jews.
Why else would Jews fear "Arab
fundamentalism?" Considering that
there is no ideology that can be
called specifically "Arab," "Arab
fundamentalism" can only mean an
expression of Arab culture or eth-
nicity. The authors' claim is purely
racist: it labels a person as a threat
simply because of his/her racial and
cultural origins.
3. "In 1864, Arab bands pillaged
Jewish communities in Tunisia" (p.
4). Arabs are not one homogeneous
group. There are Arab Muslims,
Arab Jews, Arab Christians, and
many other kinds of Arabs.
Therefore, claiming that "Arab
bands pillaged... destroy(ed)...
rap(ed)" is both racist and offensive
because the statement draws no
distinction between the Arabs
involved. Parrott and Sard are
blinded by stereotyped that present
Arabs as terrorists and murderers.
Similarly, the article also reads,
"the Arab community began to riot;
over 200 Jews were killed" (p. 5).
The authors are again drawing a
non-existent dichotomy between
Arabs and Jews in the above con-
texts; the Jews living within the
community, along with their pre-
sumably Muslim neighbors, were
all Arabs.
There were definitely gross injus-
tices done to Jews of past eras, but
in their zeal to present this, the au-
thors used myths and racist stereo-
types. They also largely ignored the
fact that many of the advances of
Jewish culture and literature oc-

curred under "Moslem" govern-
ments, particularly those in the
Iberian peninsula.
During the several centuries of
Muslim rule, Hebrew acquired its
first grammar and Jewish arts and
sciences rose to new heights. Jews
were also an important part of the
political system-Hasdai ben
Shapirut, for example, was a
prominent Jewish Prime Minister
in Cordoba under Abd al Rahman
III (see The Cultural Atlas of
Islam). In the Spanish Inquisition
against Muslims and Jews which
followed the Muslim rule of Spain,
Jews sought asylum in Muslim
lands in North Africa.
The intense animosity that
Parrott's and Sard's article is an ex-
ample of, is a relatively new phe-
nomena which grew out of the pro-
cess of establishing the state of
Israel in 1948. The indignation of
Palestinian Arabs against a group
of newcomers declaring sovereignty
over their land, and the attempt by
these Zionist newcomers to treat
the Palestinian Arabs as non-enti-
ties, or at best sub-humans, has
been the source of this antagonism.
The University campus has seen
many attacks against Arabs and
Muslims in the past year. Now, the
article in this last issue of Prospect
can be added to the list. We feel an
apology is in order from the editors
to the Arab and Muslim communi-
ties of Ann Arbor.
Contact the Muslim Students Asso-
at the Islamic Center.

, . .

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