Laura Johnson

PERCEPTIONS OF THE MUSLIM WORLD: CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES

A research paper exploring the perceptions Americans have of the Muslim community. For a historical foundation, I will research the Islamic Golden Age in Spain when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together—historically known as a time of tolerance. I will contrast this with modern day perceptions through the lens of media, including newspapers and film sources. With these sources I will observe both how stereotypes are perpetuated and how others have chosen to look beyond them.

ARTIST STATEMENT

I value, above all else, truth in communication. Because I have a desire to help others cultivate understanding and empathy needed to end prejudice, I have a desire to speak truth in my writing. I believe this truth cannot be forced into people’s minds, but must be presented in a clear and fair way so that they can change their perceptions on their own. My experience writing newspaper articles has taught me that truth is not just facts, but facts in context. Facts, particularly numbers, can be misleading if you don’t understand where they came from or what they represent. This is true for historical and modern events—you cannot examine them in isolation but must see them within a context that allows a wider perspective.

In my thesis project I intend to change peoples’ perceptions of the Muslim community from attitudes of fear and suspicion and provide a perspective that fosters understanding. To do so, my aim is to offer a fuller truth within my research paper that springs from a vantage point that encompasses history and current media representation. I hope that this project will fuel a healthy dialogue that will encourage more than just tolerance, but genuine acceptance.