37 pages 1 hour read

Eboo Patel

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2007

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Chapters 3-5

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 3 Summary: “Identity Politics”

Patel begins college and finds that “[t]he world has never seemed so new to me as it did during those first few months of college. I was stunned to learn that not everybody wanted to be white” (37). Many of the minority students are fiercely loyal to their own ethnic groups, which is something Patel has not seen before. When he approaches an attractive white girl, “[s]he shot me a look of disgust” (38). He is confused but then has an epiphany: “The problem was not with my skin; it was with her eyes” (39).

Patel becomes interested in identity politics and the idea that “authentic selves” (39) are determined solely by race and gender. He has long discussions with other minority students about the various types of oppression that they each experience. This is a change for him because “[i]n high school history class, America had been presented as the land of opportunity and freedom. I had been told almost nothing about its dark side. Now I couldn’t get enough” (40). He responds with rage, protesting any conservative speaker invited to campus and vigorously debating capitalist and imperialist apologists in his classes: “I started calling liberals ‘house niggers,’ a term I learned from Malcolm X, meaning they were too domesticated and comfortable to take the necessary actions to bring down the system” (42).