Positive and Negative Effects of Ethnicity

Ethnicities in society can have both positive and negative effects on people. I decided to create a photo-essay regarding ethnicity. I interviewed a few classmates from the Lab School to ask them about how their ethnicity and how it has affected their lives.

Jamal Nimer:
"I'd say my ethnicity is Arab or Middle Eastern. In general, my ethnicity has affected me in society mostly when traveling. I think a lot of times when I'm trying to travel with my family we'll get stopped a lot more than many other families do. I remember a few occasions when I was young, going from Jordan to the States, I'd get randomly stopped by TSA for bomb checks where they'd search my hands for traces of gunpowder. Traveling with a mom with a Hijab on her head was certainly not very helpful. Traveling to Palestine or Israel from Jordan is also incredibly difficult. The Israeli government doesn't allow my family to land in Israel even though we have American citizenships and it doesn't allow the Palestinian Authority to have its own airport. Instead we're told to go through Israeli customs between the Palestinian and Jordanian borders. Since Israel has Palestine military occupied, it controls Palestinian borders and its domestic security. They have an intensive process for passing into Palestine that only Palestinians have to go through. I remember one time my family and I got stopped for hours on end on a bus in the middle of July. The temperature was around 90 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or something absurd along that line, and there was no air-conditioning or water. We weren't allowed outside the bus, and the Israeli officials had us wait for hours even though there was no line or traffic ahead of us. So overall I would say my ethnicity makes traveling incredibly difficult."

Robert Coats:
"My ethnicity is African-American. One time my mom was training for a triathlon in Naperville at which she took my sister and me to. In Naperville, there was a concession stand near an artificial lake where she trained. So my sister and I went to the stand and ordered some churros to share, but they said they were out of churros. Then my sister decided to peak into the back window when the workers weren't looking, and she saw them in the back eating churros. It was sad and kinda ruined the first day of summer for me."

Bassem Noghnogh:
"I would say my ethnicity is Syrian. So, I found out that Lebanese food is just Syrian food.  Apparently, they call it Lebanese food because Lebanon is a newer country even though the only difference in Lebanese and Arab food is that in Lebanon they cook only fish. One day, my family and I went to a Lebanese restaurant, and I was like "why are we here," and my mom was like "because they have good Arab food." It was kinda weird to find out our[my country's] food is widespread. Like it's not just our thing or our country's specialty. It was weird finding out we're[Syrians] not super unique, and our food is not as special or distinctly from that country."

Hannah Herrera:
"I identify as Chinese and Mexican. Growing up, I wasn't just one thing. I was able to choose and make my own path regarding my identity. But it was easy to recognize that I was different than other kids, meaning it took a pretty long while for me actually to accept and form an identity."

"I can remember walking down the street and having someone catcalling me. People would go "hey china doll" or "hey chic-a how you doing," and this made me realize how much both of my ethnicities are sexualized in media and in general through stereotypes. Asian women are seen as submissive, and I'm not submissive, and I don't like being considered it. I like being considered a strong person. On the other hand, with Hispanics, they are portrayed as the sexy maids who have affairs with the husband they work for. But no, we are not all like that. I believe it isn't right for anyone, in general, to be sexualized in that manner."

Roma Nayak:
"My ethnicity is Indian American, and I think it overall has affected me positively. I have been dancing an Indian classical dance called Kathak for 8 years. Through dancing I have been able to connect to my Indian culture in many positive ways. As I dance, I learn from the song lyrics because they all tell stories which I express through dancing. Through those stories, I have learned and understood more about the history of the culture. Also, I feel I have formed a stronger connection to my heritage through dancing. I have been able to learn more about different traditions and holidays and the connotations that go with my culture."


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