Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Iraqi American

Serving Our House through Journalism

Photo By: Vickie Thomas

Left to write: Marlon Walker of the Detroit Free Press, Weam Namou, and Charlie LeDuff of Fox News, and moderator Kathy Chaney, Producer/Reporter at WBEZ 91.5FM              (Photo by Vickie Thomas)

While in my birth country ISIS continues to wage war against journalists, here in the United States journalism continues to flourish, opening doors to new voices – as is the tradition of the United States.

It’s true that a lot of minority groups in America do not receive the air and press time they deserve. But it is also true that in America, there is an opportunity for people to break the mold without risking their life. Here, an association of black journalists says “welcome” to an Iraqi-American journalist like myself, because what they see and appreciate in each other is the heart of journalism, which is an appetite for truth and education, an appetite which journalists in many other countries cannot dare quench.

On October 11th, at the 2014 NABJ Conference in Detroit, sitting on the panel next to award winning reporter Charlie LeDuff of Fox News and reporter Marlon Walker of the Detroit Free Press, listening to the easy and lively manner in which they spoke about how they dealt with “Conflict in the Community”, the topic of our discussion, I realized that a large part of the problem many Middle Easterners and Arabs have is inner conflict. Born and raised under authoritarian regimes, they have difficulty expressing their truths in constructive ways. Rather than influence public opinion and government policy, they try to influence each other – which often builds tension within their own communities rather than create progress.

Investigative Journalism is such a phenomenon in the Arab World that Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) based in Amman, Jordan describes it on its website as “still an alien practice.” Many journalists from that region who growing up, were told to “Hush!” and “Mind your own business” have wounds to heal before they can grow wings like the American journalists who were told to “Speak up!” and “Dig for the truth”, who like Charlie LeDuff can confidently say, “This is my house too! We’re all living in the United States, sharing it.”

It is when people from the Arab world, who over the last decade have become one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, fully comprehend, appreciate and believe in the words “This is my house too!” that we will best serve this house through journalism.

Hiking, Tribal Style


Last year my cousin raved about this one park that she said we “must go to.” So we did. It was Bloomer Park in Rochester. They have a number of playgrounds and picnic areas and countless gorgeous trees to stare at. But our favorite discovery was the hiking trail we accidentally came across. We went up and down peaks, walked over fresh fallen leaves, amongst trees bunched together like parsley. The sun glistened over the small river beside us, bikers passed us by, and our children picked up sticks to use as canes as we moved forward.

The trail walk is around 90 minutes. Trying to find our way back to the picnic and playground area is usually not easy. Once we even ended up in a subdivision. It was a sight! Twenty people between the ages of 60 and 3 just roaming around a quiet neighborhood, looking dazed and confused. The experience was exhilarating and ever since that first time, we have gone back often for more hikes and picnic food or in today’s case, a barbecue.

Bloomer Park is named after Howard Bloomer, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1871. Later in life, he received his law degree from Detroit College of Law. After law school, he helped found the Macgregor and Bloomer Law Firm. Two of his famous clients were John and Horace Dodge, the founders of Dodge Motor Car Company.

In the 1920’s, Bloomer persuaded the Dodge Brothers to donate 11 parcels of land to the State of Michigan to form state parks and recreation areas. Bloomer and his wife donated 47 acres along the Clinton River to the state in order to create Bloomer State Park #2.

Our family is grateful to Mr. Bloomer’s philanthropy.