DEARBORN — 3D Consulting & Communications held their 9th Annual ‘Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans: Challenges and Commonalities’ reception at Byblos Banquet Hall on Thursday March 29 to a diverse crowd filled with community members and organization leaders.
Nadia Fadel-Bazzi, one of the co-producers of the event gave an emotional speech about her husband, who has been deployed in the Marines six different times since September 2001.
|Guests of the event listened to the speakers on stage, which included NAACP Detroit President Dr. Wendell Anthony.|
The five hour event was divided into four different sessions, where a key note speaker addressed issues of race, tolerance and perceptions not just in the Arab community, but with other ethnic communities as well.
Rola Nashef, Producer of the upcoming film "Detroit Unleaded," shared her experiences of being an Arab American and how she infiltrated that into her work on film.
"Growing up as an Arab was a very polarizing situation for me. I never saw an Arab American family on TV. Never saw anyone that looked like me. On the other side, the negative images of Arabs were everywhere," Nashef told the crowd.
Nashef grew up in Lansing, far away from the Arab community in Dearborn. She says she grew up surrounded by friends from different cultures, including African Americans and Latinos. Then when she came to Dearborn, she explains what happened to her as a "cultural shock."
"These stereotypes of Arabs were so foreign to me growing up. It definently inspired me to create my own media," she added.
"Detroit Unleaded," a scripted dramedy, depicts the lives of Arab gas station owners in Detroit and the relationships and fears they develop with their customers. Various clips from the film were shown to the crowd and it recieved an overwhelming reaction. The film is expected to premiere here in Detroit this summer.
Also on the agenda was a speech by Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the NAACP Detroit Branch. Anthony touched base on recent sensitive issues that had been making news.
"Recently the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida because he was wearing a hoodie is just as tragic as Shaima Alawadi out in California who was wearing a headscarf and happened to be an Arab and was beaten to death," Anthony stated. "We need to start doing some stuff together that we don't usually. We need to identifiy with each other. We don't always have to agree, but we can agree that there are somethings that are common to all of us. We in Detroit face a major challenge.”
Dr. Wendell Anthony even addressed rumors of President Obama being Muslim.
"When people say 'Obama must be Muslim,’ is something wrong with being Muslim? Aren't Muslim doctors, lawyers and providing services? Yet somehow they are unworthy to be considered as Americans like everyone else?”
Guadalupe Lara, a motivational speaker also talked about the Latino community and the perceptions that are put on them, which might not be all that different from Arabs.
"We focus on the negative right away...the men all carry knives. They are all on welfare. They are all immigrants. They don't pay taxes...we don't have real knowledge about groups of people and it becomes easier to become enemies." Also at the event was comedian Mike Batayeh and Hollywood producer Asaad Kelada (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Office). The event was co-sponsored by the ACRL, ADC Michigan, ACCESS, and the NAACP.