• Welcome teachers! Log in or Register Now for a free ProTeacher account!

Uncomfortable post-911 around Arabs?



I'm a regular poster but signed out for this one - I know some people may get offended by this and honestly, that's NOT my intention.

I was at the mall this afternoon and there was an Arab family there with the woman in the full black covering, with even most of her face being covered. Only her eyes showed. The husband was dressed pretty much like an American guy and so were their kids (who were running around like crazy, by the way, but that's another post). I noticed lots of people giving them not exactly dirty looks, but maybe what you could call wary looks, and sort of side-stepping around them. I found that I also felt slightly uneasy being near them, which I'm sure was totally unfounded. All they were doing was shopping like anyone else. I guess this is a result of 911...and I hate that I felt that way, but I did.

Does anyone else have this reaction? I don't mean to be prejudiced and I'm not trying to "slam" any race or religion.


Senior Member

Of course it is unsettling to see someone who is completely hidden under black clothing. I think that is inherent in us, because we want to see people's faces and their expressions, so we can see whether or not they might present a danger to us. Your reaction is quite natural, since you may not have encountered the full covering before. 911 may have added to the discomfort. I still feel uncomfortable in the area near my school when I see a group of hooded men walking together, even though I probably know them from when they were students at my school years ago.


Senior Member
post 911

I understand what you mean but it doesn't bother me one bit because these are the families in my school. She was dressed according to the Shiite tradition, I believe. I'm used to it, though it completely goes against the American thinking of equality.


Senior Member
I know it's their custom and religion-but good grief it bugs me to see those women all covered up like that! I would just have wanted to kick her husband in the rear end for making her dress like that, then turn around and kick her in the rear end for allowing him to do it.
I know, I know, I guess i'm not very tolerant in this area!
<!--misspeak--> <!--misspeak-->


Senior Member
I agree with the first response.... it makes me nervous to see people who are covered up, be they men, women, young, old, white, black, any color in between.... it makes me nervous to not be able to see an entire face. It is hard to read people when you can see very little of their faces.


Senior Member
Middle Eastern students

I can understand your feelings, I felt the same way for a while. However, DH now works at a school with a small but prominent population of Middle Eastern students. They're wonderful. He had four students on his team from Iran that I love dearly.

A colleague at school made a racist comment after I mentioned spending the night at the ER when one player was injured and it made me incredibly angry. These are kids in our country trying to make a better life for themselves. But that's a different post.

I think the important thing is you recognize this trait in yourself and knew that you didn't like it. Realizing you have this feeling is the first step in changing it.

Good luck!


Senior Member
Oh America...

Sorry, but...this is why I hate America. We (myself included!) are so uncomfortable around anyone who isn't like ourselves. If the person has a different culture, dress, lifestyle, we get all uncomfortable. That's what makes our world beautiful--our differences!! I understand the post-911, but, honestly, a small group of people did something and a whole group of people now get the dirty looks and the walking away. Get over yourselves and embrace the different cultures!!!

MS Math

Senior Member
Hate America?

Isn't that a bit extreme - to say you hate America? I wonder how many other places I could live where my conservative lifestyle, somewhat ordinary dress, and Southern culture would be "embraced"? Tolerated maybe, but embracing my beliefs would negate theirs - which is why I can be tolerant without sacrificing who I am and my beliefs.

not my name


I can never understand why people who live here in America say that they hate their own country! Can you explain that to me? I find it incomprehensible that you hate the country that allows you to say whatever you feel, whenever you like. It is for this exact freedom that so many have given their lives. Unbelievable. There are other countries that you may want to move to if it is so bad here. You will come to appreciate America more then. I'm thinking you must be a young adult and have some more living to do.


Senior Member
Sorry, too strong of a word

I did overact when I said hate....I honestly don't. America is a place where we are free to do so many things- including dressing in our cultural attire- and for this, I am truly thankful. I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

The point I was trying to make is, are we embracing the other cultures that are coming here? That's what's so great about America, that people are free to express what they want (Arabic dress, etc.) yet when they express something different than what we find normal, we get uncomfortable.


Senior Member

I think we are only uncomfortable until we get used to it. I remember a teacher who moved here to southern California from a small city in Montana. A group of us were standing outside the classrooms talking when several male teenagers took a short cut across our campus. They were dressed in jeans and white t-shirts and completely ignoring us. Ms. Montana remarks to us that she's watching them. Several of us turned to she who she was referring to. Nothing unusual to those of us who see kids dressed like that everyday. I imagine to her now, several years later, she probably doesn't pay them any extra attention either. But when something is new to you, you notice.
In this post-Columbine era, I still notice when teenagers wear long black trenchcoats when it's warm/hot outside.


Senior Member
I wouldn't necessarily assume that the woman's husband, or her family, forced her to dress that way, though of course that is a possibility. She could truly believe in the practice and feel more comfortable dressing that way. I was recently in Morocco and saw a very wide range of dress among women, from fully covered up to simply wearing a headscarf and long sleeved shirt with jeans and boots. And those long, flowing outfits don't just come in black. I saw many beautiful colors and prints, and nice fabrics too. I also saw a big generational difference - the women fully covered up, including faces, tended to be older, while those in jeans with their faces showing tended to be younger. I'm sure that someone from the culture could have pointed out who was Shia or Sunni, who was from that part of Morocco and who wasn't, and many other distinctions.

To me it's really no different than people of other religions who wear modest clothing. I do think it is restrictive, but for the faithful, participating in that type of dress symbolizes membership in the religious community and a devotion to God. Unfortunately, I think that politicians often use religion and devotion as a political tool, and take advantage of people's beliefs to control and oppress them. For example, a country who sends out police to look at what women are wearing and arrest those who aren't following the dress code. It becomes an instrument of fear and control. In this country, hopefully we don't have to worry about that.


Senior Member
I truly believe if you were woman in a predominately Shiite area of the middle east dressed in shorts and a tank top a lot Iranian people would feel uncomfortable around you. I believe its human nature. But what also makes us all human (including Muslim people) is that we can step back and say that it isn't what we wear that separates good from evil people. It is what they do with the uncomfortable feelings.