New material in the library may help abolish stereotypes in Central Oregon, according to Karen Roth.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was awarded to Central Oregon Community College’s Barber Library in January, according to Roth, Multicultural Director at COCC. The grant included 25 books and three films about Islam and Muslim experiences.
“We are hoping that this collection and our programs,” Roth said, “will help to educate the campus and community.”
COCC will be presenting a series of lectures to introduce the material at the library throughout spring term, according to Karen Aylward, coordinator of the Nancy R. Chandler Visiting Scholar program.
Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, associate professor of religion and humanities at Reed College, helped put together the material for the collection. GhaneaBassiri will be presenting one of the lectures at COCC.
“It should be a very good presentation,” Aylward said, “because [GhaneaBassiri] has had a hand in creating this nationally.”
Aylward sees the grant and lectures as an opportunity to fight back against stereotypes in Central Oregon.
“Because of the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan], we get bombarded with these negative stereotypes,” Aylward said. “There are Muslims in the community who stay relatively quiet because of these prevailing stereotypes.”
The biggest issue with the common perception of Muslim people, according to Aylward, is “we don’t have an appreciation of the variety.”
People often have a tendency to view all Muslims as the same, Aylward said.
“There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world,” Aylward said. “Now tell me there isn’t a huge amount of diversity. Muslims in Indonesia are way different than Muslims hiding in the outlying hills of Afghanistan.”
A kickoff presentation and reception for the collection will be held in the library on May 1, followed by GhaneaBassiri’s presentation on Muslims in American history.