Speak for ourselves and speak out
Can’t be ashamed cuz we gotta be
The Iron Shiek
June, 2003 show in Pittsburgh
Palestinian-American rapper, The Iron Sheik aka Will Youmans talks to the San Francisco Chronicle about uh… being both Palestinian and American, and a rapper. OK, I started that out quite snarkily, but this long article is actually note worthy for several reasons.
The Sheik discusses the Palestinian immigrant experience – describing how Palestinian Americans deal with prejudice and suspicion in a way that is reminiscent of American Jewish experiences.
Many of the 70,000 or more Palestinians in the United States … arrived as refugees and tried to fade into their new surroundings. In “Growing Up,” Will raps about Arabs who deny their roots to avoid prejudice: “Some hide their identity and claim Italy, or some other country, doing what they do to blend in for protection. … Ali’s name becomes Antonio from Spain.”
He also borrowed the name Iron Shiek from the 80s era WWF wrestler who portrayed a stereotypicaly evil Arab.
“He was the stereotypical Middle Easterner and was part of the media representations that teach young Arab Americans that we are the bad guys. I decided to co-opt it in order to redefine my community: to speak for ourselves while smashing stereotypes.”
Hey man, do you read Heeb Magazine perhaps?
The rest of the article devolves into the standard Palestinian sob story of endless, one-sided victimization. Once again, I am not unsympathetic, but why do Palestinians steadfastly refuse to accept at least some responsibility for their situation? I read the entire article hoping for some balance, some nuance, some… something. Nope. Nothing. Again. Anyhow, I threw 2 Iron Sheik tracks into playalicious (top left, under the lips) – Propaganda, a song that mimmics the standard AIPAC pro-Israel line (featuring a nasal typically Jewish voice) and Olive Tree a sort of history of Palestine 101. Uh… enjoy? However, if you think Olive Tree is a response to Propaganda, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Youmans ironically enough does indeed make a great case for Israel ….