Arabs, identity and the media

One of my clients, one of the more high-profile people I represent, is of partial Arab extraction. Since I began representing her, we've run into road-blocks when discussing her ethnic background. Many in the media refuse to acknowledge it. Our theory is that having her be widely known as an Arab American would turn the notion of what an Arab is, what an Arab is supposed to look like, what an Arab is supposed to act like, etc. on its head and society at large isn't ready for that.

 

So what do we do to assert ourselves and our identity in the media and in the world? Do we call upon well-known people of Arab descent to rep' it more forcefully? Do they have an obligation to do so?

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About Josephine Zohny

Josephine Zohny was born to an Italian-American mother and an Egyptian-born father in Pittsburgh, PA. She grew up in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and moved to New York City shortly before the September 11th attacks to attend college. She received a B.A. in Music Business, Writing (Creative Non-fiction) and Race and Ethnic Studies from NYU in 2005. She is currently the Director of Entertainment Publicity for WeRoqq Publicity and Promotion, primarily representing hip-hop and r&b artists. Her writings on music, pop culture and critical race theory have appeared on PopMatters.com, EURWeb and in Colorlines and Z!nk, among other outlets and publications. She is intensely interested in the issues of ethnic identity as it pertains to Arabs, both in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the diaspora. Her personal blog can be found at www.jzohny.com.

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