On Sunday May 16, Rima Fakih, a 24-year old Lebanese immigrant from Dearborn became the newest Miss USA and a beacon of hope for much of southeastern Michigan as well as immigrants across the country.
Fakih’s family is Shiite from a village in the south of Lebanon called Srifa. She came to the United States with her parents in 1993.
Her family eventually settled in Dearborn, Michigan, where Fakih was able to work towards her goal of becoming Miss USA. Dearborn, located in southeastern Michigan, is one of the cities in this area of the United States with the highest concentration of Arab Americans. 25% of the people living in Dearborn are immigrants, many from Arab countries. As a result, Arab cuture has made an impact throughout Metro Detroit. Hummus dip and pita bread is just as commonplace as potato chips and sour cream dip.
In today’s world, where it seems that decades of progress may go unnoticed with movements such as the recent immigration laws in Arizona, Fakih is a reminder of the cultural diversity values that many in this country hold so dear. While many Arab people in the United States face discrimination based upon ethnic ties, Fakih breaks the bonds of stereotypes associated with Arab and Muslim women.
During a time of uncertainty and unrest in the state of Michigan surrounding state budget cuts and a high unemployment rate, Fakih is able to remind the country as a whole that the heart of Michigan is still beating fast.
Beauty knows no cultural bounds. Fakih is a testament to the fact that our cultural differences should be celebrated. She represents a new generation in which ethnic ties and racial prejudices will be broken down by perseverance, and by people willing to make a difference.