Scheherazade's Legacy: Arab and Arab-American Women on Writing

Scheherazade's Legacy: Arab and Arab-American Women on Writing

Scheherazade's Legacy: Arab and Arab-American Women on Writing

Scheherazade's Legacy: Arab and Arab-American Women on Writing

Synopsis

Brings together the voices of important Arab and Arab-American women writers on the subject of creative writing and offers many original selections from contributors.

Excerpt

Barbara Nimri Aziz

Inevitably, a time arrives in a people's history when a shared awakening occurs. In varying degrees of awareness, driven by the feeling that “It is up to me to tell my people's story,” we begin. Or, we are compelled simply to tell my own story.

James Baldwin, when he emerged as a political voice, concluded that he could not accept what he once believed—that he was an interloper, that he could have “no other heritage “than White heritage” which I could possibly hope to use,” and he would simply have to accept his special attitude, his special place in the world scheme. At one time, he had believed that otherwise, “I would have no place in any scheme.” Ultimately Baldwin rejected that fate and he went on to write some of the finest prose in American literature. Today, just fifty years later he has earned a place as one of America's foremost writers.

There are many similarities between Arab and African American experiences in the United States, and Arabs in general would gain much in our struggle for empowerment and recognition by studying our positions vis-à-vis the mainstream white society more closely. This applies to artists as well as community leaders.

Drawing from his analysis of his heritage and how he might negotiate the world of the African American and the dominant white culture he found so oppressive, Baldwin said, “One writes out of one thing only— one's own experience.” It is not easy when one finds oneself embedded in a hostile environment that is also one's beloved home. “Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop . . .

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