Is Arab term ‘boater’ offensive or affectionate?

The Arab American News in Dearborn, Michigan, has been publishing occasional articles that break down stereotypes and practices that explain the ways of Arab Americans.

The latest is about the term “boaters,” which refers to recent immigrants, whether they came by boat or, more likely, by air. The article gets at the difference between new arrivals and Arab Americans who were born in the United States or who have been here a while.

In his article about the uses of the term boaters, Ali Harb wrote that he has been labeled with it himself. He wrote that it can mean, “a wide range of qualities in a person, from good cooking to bad driving. It describes a way of speech, a sense of fashion, a way of life.”

“Every time I was referred to as a ‘boater,’ it felt like an attempt to nullify my struggle, experience and name and replace them with a tag that dubbed me as inferior to those hurling the insult.”
—Ali Harb

Harb’s main source was Matthew Stiffler, a professor of Arab American Studeis at the University of Michigan and a researcher at the Arab American National Museum. Stiffler was also one of the expert editors on the guide 100 Questions and Answers about Arab Americans.

New book on Arab youths offers hope

Juan Cole, who writes the Informed Content blog about the history and context of developments in the Middle East has a new book out this month, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East.

The New Arabs by Juan Cole
A New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani says that the book is “at its most illuminating when it takes the reader inside the youth movements in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, showing us how activists used technology and social media to amplify their message and connect with like-minded citizens across the region. Although this phenomenon has already been widely covered by Western media, Mr. Cole chronicles it in fascinating detail here, recounting the stories of prominent dissidents and their often pioneering use of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and cellphone technology to network and organize.”

However, the review says, “Cole does not deal here with the mastery of new media demonstrated by terrorist groups like ISIS, whose current sweep across northern Iraq has been accompanied by a sophisticated propaganda campaign conducted with Tweets, harrowing videos and photoshopped images.”

The relative youth of the Arab population in the United States is one of the subjects covered in 100 Questions and Answers about Arab Americans

Top 10 countries in international high school enrollment

A new report shows that U.S. high schools are experiencing enrollment changes similar to those seen in colleges.

International enrollment in U.S. schools is up and being driven by students from East Asia.

The Institute of International Education reports that 73,019 international students were enrolled at U.S. high schools in October 2013, a record.

The top 10 countries for enrollment were:

  1. China, 23,562
  2. South Korea, 8,777
  3. Germany, 7,130
  4. Mexico, 2,659
  5. Brazil, 2,292
  6. Vietnam, 2,289
  7. Spain, 2,125
  8. Japan, 1,959
  9. Thailand, 1,827
  10. Italy, 1,718

100 Questions and Answers About Americans was created to help international students in the U.S. and its companion, 100 Questions and Answers About East Asian Cultures, was created to help students understand their international classmates.

Map shows child immigration from Honduras, Guatemala

arrest data from Homeland Security show origin of young Central American immigrants from Guatemala and Honduras
Homeland Security data obtained by the Pew Research Center shows the origin of young Central American immigrants from Guatemala and Honduras
Pressure has been building along the U.S.-Mexico border and on President Barack Obama over a crisis of immigration by unaccompanied minors.

As explained in the foreword to 100 Questions and Answers About Hispanics and Latinos, immigration issues get especially painful when families and unaccompanied minors are involved. This map shows that violence and poverty are driving children from Central America toward the United States.

The Pew Research Center created the map with data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

See Grace Lee Boggs documentary for free

This month, watch for free the new documentary “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.”

Political and social activist Grace Lee Boggs of Detroit
Grace Lee Boggs/ Kyle McDonald photo used under Creative Commons license
Now almost 100 years old, the Chinese-American Detroit activist recounts stories from as far back as when the FBI had her and her husband watched up to living in today’s Detroit. The documentary, by filmmaker Grace Lee, is interspersed with 30-second primers.

You can see a trailer or, this month, the full film, or get more information on its PBS POV web page.

You can also read a writeup about the film on Read the Spirit, which published 100 Questions and Answers About Asian Americans.