Islamophobia and Racism in America

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Jul 2017

Member Reviews

Given the current American cultural climate, this book it vital and a necessary read for anyone looking to understand not just the roots of discrimination but how to change/challenge racism
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Erik Love, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, also attempts to bring greater understanding in ISLAMOPHOBIA AND RACISM IN AMERICA (from New York University Press). He writes about hate crimes in America and how "many South Asian Americans are Muslim, but many others are Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist .... [and] many Arab Americans are Christian, Jewish or agnostic, but race exposes them to Islamophobia all the same."  Much of his work focuses on defining what he calls "the Middle Eastern racial category" and use of terms like "Muslim American" to replace "Arab American."

As part of his research, Love has travelled and met/spoken with leaders of advocacy organizations in the United States, conducted content analysis on documents like brochures and websites, and also built a large database with information on "Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian American advocacy organizations." He writes about whether Islamophobia should be described as racism, noting a long history and parallels with other forms of racism. Several sections describe the work and past strategies employed by these civil rights advocacy groups, as well as a look towards the future and possibility for change.
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This book will appeal to sociologists but not to the general public. Erik Love gives a compelling argument on why he believes that Islamophobia is a racial issue, as crimes are often committed against those who "look" Muslim.  However, he goes over this terminology in too detail for the lay person. I think that the general reader would prefer a general plan to promote tolerance. for those who look different than them.
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Eye opening and heart wrenching... I knew that Islamaphobia was happening and it horrified me, but to read it all about it made me literally tear up... Such a brilliant read and offered an insightful look at how the world is destroying itself.
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I love books that make me think about something in a new way. I am going to guess that if you picked up a book called Islamophobia and Racism in America, you are going to acknowledge that there is a problem regarding how Middle Easterners and Muslims are treated. I know it exists, I want to help stop it, but I think it is important to start with that baseline. This book was also written while President Trump was a candidate and even though it is just going to press, I am sure with the last few weeks (written Feb 9, 2017) Love could add whole new chapters.

What Love does is traces a history of Islamophobia and connects it and sometimes disconnects it from racism. I write it that way as one of his first points is Muslim/Islam is not a race, but it has become treated as one since 2001. Another point is that Middle Eastern isn't a race either, but rather a regional description that contains a wide variety of religions and doesn't even show up on most race check boxes. That is where I started learning new things.

Love traces the history of how Middle Easterners have been portrayed in media, in movies, and as stereotypes to begin a racism even before 2001. He contrasts that with the term Muslim, which used to represent African Americans, but then became all about Middle Easterners. 

The book was extremely readable and his points are well thought out. I found it incredibly helpful, especially in this political climate.

I gave this one 4 stars.

I want to thank NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book. I received it in exchange for an honest review.
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Love begins this piece by describing the over-simplistic logic which allows some to commit the most heinous crimes against Arab Americans. It leads us to wonder how many times the following sentence starters have been overheard, "That towel-head at the convenience store..." Sighing. It's hateful. 
It is reminiscent of a personal photography experiment in which we donned a hijab and captured our image in low level light. No one liked them because we looked Islamic. These were not prejudice people either. Now, we do not care to view the roots of prejudice as it forks so much and becomes overwhelming.

Within the same chapter, Love looks at verbiage and vernacular stating that we the people do not have an accurate name for those who would and will be the recipient of so much hate.

How many acts of Ms. Rosa Parks will it take before the U.S. realizes the harm that is being perpetrated?

Granted, those who reside in these Middle Eastern countries have been slow to racially integrate with Caucasians. Perhaps, this is the reason why we have been too slow to adapt our thinking processes in a healthier manner? Are we really simple? Yes. Yes we are.

And, we are not.

From one who has been educated as a counselor and therapist, prejudice involves so much. It's hate. It's fear. It's pride. It's ingrained.

As individual's, we must work outside of our comfort zones to learn to treat others as ourselves. Why? Who will otherwise suffer and for how long?

Islamophobia and Racism in America is an excellent and timely piece. It places itself as a positive history marker. We need more.
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