"Orientalism involves a way of seeing the other (the Arab) that justifies an ongoing system of domination. Edward Said’s landmark analysis of the problem, Orientalism (1978), is now forty years old, and yet the phenomenon it describes feels as entrenched and normalized as it was when he wrote it."
-Philip Metres, "Same As It Ever Was: Orientalism Forty Years Later," Lithub
In a personal essay marking the 40th anniversary of Said’s Orientalism, Metres shares his encounters with stereotypical Arab representations in the movies and television shows of his childhood. Metres could not reconcile the depictions of conniving sheikhs and passive belly dancing women with his own welcoming, demonstrative Arab American relatives. He points out that in today’s popular culture, while some strides have been made, "Orientalism still reigns; though it’s not as brazen, its subtle forms are everywhere" – and still unrecognized by a majority of Americans.

To combat the continuing exoticization of Arabs and Arab Americans, Metres calls for “more attention to this blindspot of our empire... that we stop erasing Arabs. That we listen to Arabs.” He recommends reading the works of a number of Arab American authors, including Evelyn Alsultany’s Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation After 9/11 (2012) and the poetry of Hayan Charara and Marwa Helal. Metres himself has brought attention to the dehumanizing of Arabs in Iraq and Palestine in his Arab American Book Award-winning works abu ghraib arias (2011) / Sand Opera (2015) and A Concordance of Leaves (2013). You can find a full list of books that have been recognized by the Arab American Book Award here.