One Scholar’s Fixation On The American ‘Obsession’ With Safety

In his essay, “Be Safe Out There,” anthropologist Sofian Merabet examines how safety is inextricably linked with race.

By Laura Rice & Caroline CovingtonJune 10, 2021 2:18 pm, ,

Sofian Merabet is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He came to the United States 25 years ago to pursue his doctorate degree and says his experiences while struggling to learn English here taught him a lot about American identity. One phrase he heard all the time that confounded him was, “Stay safe out there.” There wasn’t an equivalent phrase in his native languages.

His own fixation on Americans’ “obsession” with safety still influences his work today. His essay, published last summer is “Be Safe Out There (and other American Delusions, Rhetorical and Otherwise).” It’s now part of a collection of essays published in May titled, “There Is a Revolution Outside, My Love.

“I invite the listeners to read the piece where I’m trying to draw a genealogy of the term and connect it with a historical as well as current reality of violence that are very much at the forefront of the social experience.”


“As with everything having to do with difference, it revolves around the topic of race.”


“In this particular society we live in, the spaces inhabited by Black and brown people have been perceived, and continue to be perceived, as these spaces of danger.


“Even if we do not have the direct power of changing the so-called big picture, let’s try to change the little things that we have a grasp of within our particular little backyard.”



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