Abstract

Here, the claim that Middle Eastern (MENA) persons are racialized is a response to complexities that define the United States (US); namely, the language of race is seen as antiquated or misleading, and thus it fails to capture MENA American experiences, leading some to call for different terminology (i.e., xenophobia or Islamophobia). The author argues that we should call social-political violence committed against MENA people racism because to name it otherwise is to ground the experience in an incomplete description which affords lighter moral responsibility and omits historical conflict. The article first elaborates the problem of racial conflict in the US and the specific problem of MENA racialization. It then responds with a historical argument that emphasizes key genealogical markers in the co-emergence of orientalism, colonialism, and racialization. The article closes by contrasting the idea of race with competing terms to defend its use on descriptive and normative grounds.

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