For many years, the United States has been battling with the problems of violence in the Middle East. Iran, with the interest to rule the Middle East and exterminating Israel, was then an image that reflected the whole of Middle East. In recent news, terrorist attacks dominate the world – targeting not only America but Europe and allegedly the Philippines. Because of these attacks, the negative perception about Middle Eastern people got even more aggravated. This lead to fear and what’s worse, to racism.
However, there are a number of personalities that continue to break stereotypes and increases the positive perception toward Middle Eastern descents. Their influence creates more open-minded people who understand the danger caused by hasty generalization. They created an image that Americans and other nationalities will be able to look up to, something different, that allows supporters to associate the Middle East with positive things. Whether promoting thing their heritage is intentional or unintentional, the world needs more personalities like them, and more people to recognize their roots.
Pierre Omidyar is an Iranian-American who was born in Paris, France. His parents were both Iranian immigrants and were successful in their own fields. His mother was a linguist and his dad was a urologist who was later assigned to work in the US. Omidyar graduated with a degree in Computer Science, and worked at Claris, a subsidiary of Apple, in the early days of his career. He opened a lot of opportunities for starting entrepreneurs by founding eBay. He paved the way to the e-commerce sensation. Though obviously multicultural, Omidyar raised the level of respect for the Iranian community – associating them with an intelligent platform as opposed to violence.
Technology and Innovation
Steve Jobs is a hundred percent Syrian but was born in San Francisco, California. He together with Steve Wozniak founded the prestigious brand, Apple. Jobs cannot be categorized as just a CEO, he was everything his brand needed. He had a vision, he understood business, technology, industrial engineering, and innovation. He followed every vision with its corresponding execution, and this lead to millions and millions of consumers worldwide still patronizing Apple products today, years after his death. Not only was he the CEO of the revolutionary brand, he was also a majority shareholder Pixar who produced almost all famous animation films like Toy Story.
Shakira’s full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll. Though widely known for her Colombian roots, she is actually of Lebanese heritage, as her grandparents are from Lebanon. Her first name is actually an Arabic term for “grateful.” She is multilingual, able to speak Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Italian. She was one of the main reason for the Latin Music Breakthrough in America. Shakira is proud of her heritage regardless of her diverse environment.
In recent Trump news, racism has been a common theme, especially when Iranians were rejected entrance in US airports. Several reports also discussed incidents of harassment both verbally and physically towards people of color in America. The problem of embracing the stigma about Middle Easterners is not just about heritage. This is an issue for all who practices Islam as a whole, and the most critical part of addressing the issue is understanding that Islam and extremism are not the same. The effects of this stigma are not only manifested in forms of fear from other nationalities, but also the insecurity, and lack of belongingness of middle easterners who themselves frown upon hearing the news of terror attacks and extremism. A powerful way to both enlighten the first and empower the latter, is to recognize those that give pride to their Middle Eastern Heritage.