< Previous
Next >
Image of Devon Akmon

© Gilles Perrin http://www.gilles-perrin.com/

Devon Akmon
Deputy Director, Arab American National Museum

Arab Americans are incredibly misunderstood in this country. I mean we’ve been here since the founding of America. We’re talking hundreds of years. Yet most people perceive Arabs as being an unknown group, a new immigrant group. So a lot of our work is really about educating and dispelling stereotypes and also building community for Arab Americans. So we’re seeking to build community, build pride, build community history.

We see an impact. We see people coming together. One of the things that we do to build community, for example, is we hold one of the world’s largest free-world music festivals in the nation in Detroit every summer. We basically created an organization of almost seventy different ethnic groups and organizations in metro Detroit that plan this together. So we’re bringing together all these people to kind of present culture, and celebrate our diversity as a region. So that’s just one way in which we’re bringing people together; we’re convening, we’re talking, we’re sharing our stories, our histories, learning a little bit about each other. Maybe dispel some of those stereotypes and misconceptions.

There have always been stereotypes; there have always been misconceptions. All we can do is continue to work to dispel those, to educate people, and celebrate both our uniqueness and the things that make us, you know, one.

From June 14, 2012, interview