Not your terrorist: Case studies examining the intersectional identities and aspirations of Arab American Muslim middle school boys
Turner, Jennifer D.
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Arab Muslim boys living in the United States have experienced varying levels of public scrutiny since 9/11 and prior to. Public perceptions of these experiences are centered on media-driven representations; often inaccurate depictions of the nuanced lives of these boys. While Arab Muslims have lived in the United States more than a century, their lived experiences, particularly experiences while in school are missing. This research study examined how Arab American Muslim Middle School boys perceived their intersecting identities while navigating instances of bias. To address this, one overarching research questions guided this study: “How do key intersecting social classifications race, gender, culture, and religion, impact Arab American middle school boys’ ethnic identity perceptions?” To further explicate on these nuances four sub-questions were addressed, including: “How do these boys define success and achievement in relation to schooling?”; “How have middle school Arab American boys experienced cultural bias/or how have they perceived cultural bias?”; To what extent do Arab American boys seek out resources (community family, religion), through their social networks?” and “How have they navigated schooling as framed by these experiences of cultural bias?” Using an Intersectional Identities Theoretical Framework (Crenshaw, 1989; Phelan, 1991; Collins, 2009), this study explored the multifaceted nature of identity perception, namely the boys’ experiences with power relationships resulting from these identifiers. Four themes surfaced including how they operationalized power and oppression across identity categories namely, Religion, Culture, Gender and Race. To delve into these questions and to represent the experiences of each boy with detail, a qualitative case study design (Bodgen & Biklen 2003; Erickson & Shultz, 1992; Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2006) was used to analyze and produce rice and detailed narratives. This study will promote discussion about the very nature of the lived experiences of Arab Muslim boys growing up in the United States. It will also serve as a platform for administrators and policy makers in the daily decisions, for example curriculum decisions, impacting this scrutinized population.