I would like to congratulate the Arab American News for publishing a series of articles on aging Arab Americans. The first article in the series, authored by Mohamad Ozeir, introduced the importance of the topic, which deserves recognition in the Arab American community.
However, the most recent piece, published on 4/11/13, was a disappointment on many levels. Mr. Ozeir decided to portray the entire community through a few anecdotal stories about immigrant elders, living in low-income housing. Instead of drawing on the growing research findings on the topic, Mr. Ozeir instead focused on a few examples of alleged abuse of elders by their adult children. He misquoted me and misinterpreted my findings as a researcher to support his view of the Arab American aging experience. His approach is harmful and unhelpful, impeding constructive dialogue about the challenges that aging families in our community face.
In over a decade of experience working with the Arab American community on research projects that have ranged from ethnic identity to aging, health, and forgiveness, I have found a high level of support among the community for my research endeavors.
Recognizing both the strengths and challenges that the community faces, Arab Americans have overwhelmingly entrusted an enormous amount of confidence in academic researchers. The community has placed trust in research to help develop plans, programs and policies that can enhance the quality of life for all its members. At the forefront of community participation have been both Arab American men and women, committed to making the world a better place. Men, in particular, have provided connections and worked hard to support research projects on aging.
Mr. Ozeir’s insinuation that my own research has found men to be uncooperative is not only completely untrue, but moreover does a disservice to the community. One would hope that with the opportunity Mr. Ozeir has to introduce issues of aging to a public forum, he would choose to portray the entire range of the community aging experience. The skewed portrayal he advanced does little to address the mounting challenges an aging society brings. The Arab American community certainly deserves more respect and care with regard to issues of aging than that provided by Mr. Ozeir.
Kristine J. Ajrouch, PhD
Eastern Michigan University and
University of Michigan