THE BLOG
06/06/2013 09:52 am ET | Updated Aug 04, 2013

Being Arab and Proud

The race card...! Where do I begin with this ever so sensitive topic for Americans?!
From filling out a simple job application, getting a loan, applying for health insurance or you name it, race plays a role. So why are we so sensitive about it? Or rather, why should we be sensitive about this question?

For me, during my adult years, I've made it clear to others that I'm comfortable talking about race. The issues, the concerns, the pros and cons of being a black woman.

But this wasn't always the case. It wasn't until my early twenties, after so many times of putting my foot in my mouth, did the most amazing black woman I had ever met set me straight and bluntly asked me, "Do you know how ignorant you sound right now? Are you aware you are black? Please stop stereotyping everyone with the B.S. propaganda that the white media has fed you about the black race. Stop and explore, look for truth and it will let you find it."

I was not only appalled, but insulted! Of course I know I am black! Although I can admittedly recall how I tried to scrub every inch of it off at a young age. I begged my mother to please relax or press my hair. I would endure the suffering of all the scalp bruises, ear burns and neck burns that happened at the slip of her hand while she ironed away the kinks and curls out of my hair. I hoped it would bring me one more step closer to being white or maybe even accepted by our all-white neighbors. To no avail, none of it worked. Today, I am still black and my hair is still kinky and in fact, the bigger my Afro, the better I feel about my inner beauty, which I hope extends to my outer beauty!

If no one else thinks I'm beautiful, at least I know my kids do. And more importantly, I feel beautiful. But it is not because of vanity. It is because I finally embraced all the gifts that made me a beautiful human being!

When I went to Dubai and Antonio Fadel introduced me to Bashar Atiyat, I was excited because of his role as an actor but also his passion for his culture. The slender, caramel-color skin man stands a little over six feet tall with warmth and endearment. He also embodies comfort with his heritage and exposes others to the beauty of his race, the Arab culture and the Bedwin way of living.

His good looks remind me of the old Laurence Olivia, with that regal stature! But his voice... Ah, that voice! Hearing him tell us about his Hollywood experiences and the exposure he brought to Hollywood about the Arab culture impressed me most. This is a must see Youtube video, it changed my whole view, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTO43HVFyU.

It is not easy to stand before others and be different, or even accept that you're different. But it takes more courage to educate others and say, "I'm okay being different."

Race relations 101.

Bashar does more then look the part, he lives the part. Through his fond experiences in Hollywood and some of the challenges he faces throughout his career, Bashar has used his experiences to go back to his region and educate his people. He has even brought some of the art culture from the West to enrich his people.


There is also Soumaya Bellafqih, a petite Moroccan beauty, who lives a life not many of us are aware of in the film industry. Like Bashar, she also serves as an advisor and consultant to the industry they both have come to love.

Listen to her recall the path that led her to this very lucrative position, and doing what she does best, producing on movie sets.

I got a giggle out of speaking with her when she was recalling some of the most influential and affluent stars she has worked with. It only pointed out to me personally how serious she took her "job," and how it lied more than just under the mask of "celebrity."

Professionalism with pride in one's self is part of her character, which was obvious to me. Performing her task to the best of her ability and seeing each assignment to completion is her primary concerns.

Again, the role we think womenfolk play in the Arab culture may not be as cut and dry as the media may want us to know, as proven by the prominent women of Dubai I was so blessed to have had encountered. Building bridges and shedding light on the misconception of their culture has become a career for some of the Arab culture.

Having pride in one's race doesn't make you a racist! But my sentiment on this topic is as follows... I can't show any other race respect, honor or compassion if I first don't love and honor my own.

Dubai, Qatar, and Egypt: thank you for the beautiful lessons in life, love and culture... These are things I never learned in school, they are things that couldn't be taught by those who never experienced your true essence.

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