A video dialogue program for young women in the USA and Muslim countries
February 11th, 2007 at 3:27 pm
Posted by Zia in Sessions

Our 8th session was on addressing discrimination. There are five video clips from the session – below are some of the topics we discussed during the conversation. 

Discrimination in the US and Tunisia. We started out by talking about discrimination in the US vs. in Tunisia. The US participants said that while many people would say there was no discrimination in the US, it exists under the surface if not blatantly. One woman who came from the south said that she didn’t encounter much discrimination in New York, but in the south there were far fewer ethnic groups so discrimination was more obvious. In Tunisia, one of the women pointed out that discrimination was forbidden in Islam, so it was not widespread: they were taught to accept people from different backgrounds and to welcome everyone.   

Perceptions of minority groups. Part of our discussion revolved around perceptions of different minority groups. One of the US participants talked about public perceptions of black Americans: she said when she was in Japan, people had the idea they were all gangsters, rappers, comedians or thugs. When asked, she said she didn’t think there was greater discrimination by blacks against whites than vice versa; discrimination had more to do with the beliefs of the individual. One of the US participants also said she’d felt more discrimination as a woman than as a part of any ethnic group. 

Views of American and Arab women. We also spent quite a while discussing perceptions of American and Arab women. We heard from the participants in Tunisia that Americans tended to be surprised by the warmth and welcoming nature of the Tunisians – Americans who came to the country would often come in concerned for their safety, but leave with a strong appreciation for the generosity of the people. Similarly, the Tunisian participants stressed their encounters with American people had been very positive. While they said there was concern in the region over the actions of the US government, they welcomed Americans to their country and appreciated there were a variety of people and opinions in the US. Overall, the assessment was that dialogue was an important thing to overcome discrimination, and it was important for people to view others as individuals rather than as a part of any particular religious or ethnic group.  


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