Nour Akkad, a freelance writer and researcher, contemplates the unique role that the recent Miss USA winner, Rima Fakih, an Arab-American has had in the Arab world. She discusses her definition of an idea role model in the Arab world and names a few memorable Arab women. This article is looks at the paradigm of third generation Arab and Muslim immigrants in the US and how current issues should be viewed and how they are viewed in the Muslim and Arab World.
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Congrats to Miss USA But Here are the Arab American Women I Look Up To
Yaaaaay! Rima Fakih, an Arab-American, has won the crown of Miss USA. Now young Arab American girls everywhere have something to aspire to: strutting in skimpy bikinis and winning pole-dancing contests.
I'm not denying that many Arabs, including myself, thought it was really cool that an Arab American won the Miss USA pageant. But should this really be looked at as a groundbreaking moment? I even saw one facebook post equate Rima Fakih's win to Barack Obama becoming the first African American President. If a beauty pageant win is our breakthrough moment, we are in a lot of trouble.
I don't recall Arab Americans being this excited about the success of other American women from Arab descent. Why can't we get this excited over women such as Diane Rehm, the exceptional and adored public radio host that has over two million listeners across the country. Broadcasting five times a week, Rehm hosts some of the most engaging and fruitful discussions among the nation's most prominent politicians, policy makers, and analysts.
Or what about the architect, Iraqi born Zaha Hadid? She was one of the first women to design a major American art museum, The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
And how can we forget about the most famous White House Press Corps. member, Helen Thomas? Helen Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent, has covered the White House under every President since John F. Kennedy. She's actually one of the few that still does the job of a White House Press reporter--she holds the feet of all administrations to the fire.
These are the kind of women we should be proud of and go crazy over on facebook. These are the kind of women our children should aspire to be.
Congratulations to Rima Fakih on accomplishing her goal. And I hope she uses her success to make a real difference in this world. But until she does, let's keep things in perspective. We, in the Arab-American community have a great deal of work to do.