Links – 2009-01-27

Compiled by Latoya Peterson and Fatemeh Fakhraie

On Amreeka, a Sundance film that examines the lives of Arab Americans.

What distinguishes the film from others is its sense of humor. Laughter, not tragedy is the watershed of Munah’s life. “I wanted to tell a story that’s lighthearted,” Dabis said. “There’s a side to the experience that’s funny, that’s all about family. The film is really about the larger struggle for belonging that applies to everyone. It’s about a woman who is trying to start a new life and a kid who desperately wants to fit in and distance himself from his family.”

The International Herald Tribune describes Kabul’s growing interest in skateboarding:

Among those who look forward to his visits is Maro, an elfin 9-year-old girl who was terrified of skateboarding at first.

“It gives me courage, and once I start skating, I completely forget about my fears,” she said.

Maro’s glittery Mickey Mouse shirt indicated middle-class status. She stood out from the street children in muddied clothes who shared the skate space. Because the sport is so new and unusual here, Percovich said, it may help mend the country’s deep social and ethnic divisions.

But for Hadisa, a 10-year-old girl from a conservative family, skateboarding has not been accepted. She said two older brothers beat her with wires for skating with poorer children in September. Several friends said they had seen blood flowing from her leg.

“I’m not upset with my brothers for beating me,” Hadisa whispered on a recent day when she did not skate because her oldest brother was nearby. “They have the right.”

Nashwa Al Ruwaini, Kuwaiti TV personality, aims to tackle Arab stereotypes in the Western media:

Through her company, Pyramedia, Nashwa aims to tackle negative Arab stereotypes through the media and establish more authentic representations of Arabs and Muslims while establishing an internal dialogue between the Islamic World and the West.

‘If we can highlight to the world that our part of the world has more to offer its people than oppression and terrorist sentiments then people in the West will start to view the Arab World in a different light.’

Culture in the Blender has an interesting take on Barack Obama’s inauguration:

It’s not just the wow factor of a TCK getting elected in a fantastically nationalistic country – his attitude and approach feel so intimately familiar. He is averse to burning bridges and acts as if he himself can be one at any time. He understands that any of his words may be picked up by news media and broadcast anywhere in the world, and addresses a global audience accordingly. He thinks about whom he’s talking to and makes changes to make them comfortable – by, say, wearing a silly American flag pin.

Also at Sundance, Chris Rock takes a second to get serious and talks about his new movie Good Hair.

And take a minute to check Afrobella’s take.

Parents are angered that Latino and African American students are targeted for pep talks.

The NY Times explores the growing hip-hop movement in China:

Mr. Wong, who became interested in hip-hop when he heard Public Enemy in the mid-’90s, said rapping helps him deal with bitterness that comes with realizing he is one of the millions left out of China’s economic boom.

The Washington Post covers the mixed reception for Slumdog Millionaire in India:

Some of Mumbai’s poor also are taking offense. On Thursday, a small band of slum residents, organized by a social activist, held up banners reading “Poverty for Sale” and “I am not a dog” outside the home of Anil Kapoor, one of the film’s stars.

But many more slum residents — the people who keep this teeming metropolis running by working as drivers, tea wallahs (or vendors), cobblers, laundry men and tailors — say it’s about time they received some attention in a country that tries to present itself as a success story, better known for its booming economy and its growing roster of millionaires than for the mayhem of its slums, among the world’s largest. They say slumdogs are underdogs who deserve a film about their lives.

The Root uncovers a secret about those ubiquitous Obama cardboard cut outs:

The only problem? Everyone’s favorite cardboard president is not our president at all. Look closely from the neck down. Look at the hands poking out from the sleeves. They are white. Yes. That’s right. Look. The ubiquitous Obama cutout seems to have a white body—one that’s about 30 pounds heavier, with clearly white, wedding band-less hands, holding glasses that Obama doesn’t wear—beneath the head of the real 44.

Just when we thought the nation was finally in black hands!

Jezebel asks: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Michelle Obama?

She’s fashion’s latest muse, and yet…not. Says New York, “There lurks an unspoken, uneasy relationship between the industry and its newest icon.” To put it bluntly, Michelle Obama makes fashion feel bad about itself.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (via Alternet) provides more proof that we aren’t post-racial:

Now, these groups have begun to turn their attention to Obama – distributing racist propaganda, filling Internet message boards with threats and messages of hate, and, in some cases, taking more direct action against minorities. Here is a sampling of racial incidents reported in the wake of the election:

* Police in Riverside County, California, said five attacks on minorities were likely related to the election and were believed to have been carried out by a local white supremacist gang.
* In Shreveport, La., a black man wearing an Obama T-shirt was brutally beaten by a group of white men screaming “f–k Obama” and “n—–r president.” The attack left the man with a broken nose, broken eye socket and broken tear duct, requiring multiple surgeries.
* In Springfield, Mass., a black church was burned hours after the election was called for Obama. Authorities later arrested three white men.
* In Staten Island, N.Y., a black teen was bloodied and bruised by two white teens who shouted “Obama” while pummeling him with a bat and pipe.
* In Rexburg, Idaho, second- and third-graders on a school bus chanted “assassinate Obama.”
* In Torrance, Calif., swastikas and racial slurs were spray-painted on homes and cars of people who displayed Obama signs or bumper stickers.
* In Milwaukee, a poster of Obama with a bullet going through his head was discovered in a police staion.
* In Maine, a sign at a convenience store invited customers to join a betting pool on when Obama would be assassinated. The sign said, “Let’s hope we have a winner.”

Gay Persons of Color discusses “Gaza, Israel, Homosexuality, and Complexity and Contradictions on the Left:”

Recently, two call outs, organized as a Pink Block, were made for a protest to denounce what was called the “Israeli apartheid” in Gaza. I declined both invitations feeling like I couldn’t participate in a movement that vilified the only country in the middle east in which gay people have legal rights. As I discussed in another post, gay Palestinians have a difficult time living in Gaza or the West Bank and are in a position to either be quiet about who they love or risk homophobic violence from an Islamic government that would rather see them put away or dead.

(Thanks to Elton, William, and Lydia for contributing.)