Category Archives: arab

Racialicious Review: The Citizen

Khaled Nabawy in a scene from "The Citizen"

Khaled Nabawy in a scene from “The Citizen”

By Guest Contributor Nour Soubani

The recent independent film, The Citizen, raises a number of important questions related to identity, belonging, and representation that are relevant and challenging to many American communities at large today.

Ibrahim, a middle-aged Lebanese man, wakes up one day and actualizes his dream: he wins a ticket from the Green Card Lottery to come to America. He lands in New York on September 10th, 2001, and befriends Diane, an attractive white American woman who is just escaping an abusive relationship. The next fateful morning is the September 11th attack, and the rest of the movie follows Ibrahim’s experience as an Arab Muslim in a post-9/11 New York City, the relationships he builds with Diane and those who both support and villainize him, and his interactions with the law.

 Ibrahim, although not a legal citizen, is painted as the ideal American: He helps the homeless, works an honest job, and intervenes at a crime scene to save a man’s life. Although he looks distinctly Arab, and some suspicion is raised that he is related to one of the hijackers, there is a clear assertion throughout the movie that Ibrahim is completely disconnected from the evil terrorists who attacked the United States, and from the Middle East as a whole. In fact, multiple times throughout the film he expresses how grateful he is to leave Lebanon, to come to America and pursue “the American Dream”, and to leave behind his penniless and unsuccessful life. While the protagonist’s morals and values are virtuous—this was enough to make the audience fall in love with him—his character functions with a subtle undertone that reinforces a binaric hierarchy between the U.S. and the rest, one that inevitably places America at the top. Ibrahim comes to the United States to make something of himself; the storyline implies that this was inherently not possible where he came from, nor were any efforts to do so valued and encouraged. He is portrayed as an exception to the rule—a respectable, mannered, responsible and hardworking individual, who, with these admirable, individualist traits, clearly does not belong in the Arab world. The character of Ibrahim—while well-intentioned—in fact plays into Orientalist notions that otherize the Middle East, creating an unknown, inferior entity out of it that inherently does not hold the same purely “American” values that cause Ibrahim to succeed.

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Quoted: Six Tips for Discussing Muslim Women during Ramadan

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Good post today over at Muslimah Media Watch:

Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

For many years now, Muslimah Media Watch has worked hard to problematize, counter, question and critique depictions of Muslim women in a variety of media outlets, as a way to provide new perspectives to looking at the “Muslim woman problem” (starting by questioning this statement).

Since Ramadan 2013 has arrived, I would like to first wish you all a wonderful and blessed month. During this month, I am hoping my fellow MMW writers will have a break from horrid portrayals of Muslim women both in many mainstream media sources and in some Muslim communities. With Muslims immersed in the spiritual and cultural practices of Ramadan and everything else that is happening in the world (from sexual attacks on female protestors in Egypt to halal nail polish and Iranian officials refusing to recognize Elham Ashgari’s swimming record), I think it is important to reconsider the ways in which we speak about Muslim women.

So, I have come up with some suggestions, along the lines of Ramadan resolutions – that I would like other people to follow.

Tip #3: Acknowledge race, culture and privilege.

It may come as a surprise, but Muslim women are not a monolithic group that can be easily lumped into one category. The mainstream media is well-known for extrapolating their assumptions on Muslim women based on countries with “bad” reputations like Iran or Saudi Arabia. Yet, we do the same within Muslim communities. We preach equality but point at other Muslim groups when there is something we do not like (female circumcision anyone?)I belong to a predominantly Arab Muslim community where black abayas and hijabs are expected, the Arabic language is praised and pushed on everyone else, and Arab standards of beauty apply. There is little acknowledgement of South Asian and African communities, and racism prevails.  [light]-skinned Arab women rank first in beauty lists, followed by white converts.

We talk about racial equality in the mosque, but the reality is completely different, as explored by Amina in a recent post. So, this Ramadan we should be looking at our own biases and privileges.

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Image Credit: diloz on Flickr

‘Woman vs. Islamist’–Dueling Protests, Flag Switching, And Zero Sum Games

Libyan women at a protest in Benghazi. Via Associated Press.

By Guest Contributor Tasnim, cross-posted from Muslimah Media Watch

The last few weeks in Libya have been tragic, depressing, and hopeful by turn.  For months the militia situation in the country had been brewing, with increasing calls for disarmament and unification under a national army on the one hand and, on the other, calls for patience by those making the argument that the armed groups are needed to keep order and security. This simmering tension exploded on the 11th of September with the devastating attack on the US embassy, which took the life of the ambassador Chris Stevens, as well as other Americans and Libyans. As a Libyan myself, I was left enraged and speechless by the attack, and finally thankful that there was someone to articulate those feelings publicly on behalf of Libyans, as prime minister Mustafa Abushagur did in his article on the attack.

Initially there was some speculation about how far the attack was motivated by the protests against that obscure film, which is no longer so obscure, and how much it was a pre-planned terrorist attack. In the wake of the attacks, however, many people ascribed the blame to certain militias or factions of them, and so on Friday, there were two sets of protests in Benghazi–one called Save the Prophet and the other Save Benghazi, the latter drawing many more people in a march against the militias, including many women.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Mira Nair

By Andrea Plaid

Having watched several of Mira Nair’s films repeatedly, I swear her guiding directive is, “If you’re 1) brown,  2) grown, and 3) sexy, you need to be in my film.”

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Ugly Americans: A Look At The Worst Of #NBCFail

Courtesy: New York Observer.

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

NBC tried, it really did.

It’s easy to say that one shouldn’t let one network destroy the way we view the Olympics as a whole, but when you’re nearly out of patience by the end of the Opening Ceremonies, you know it’s going to be an interesting event.

But after a week or so to consider and collect our thoughts, it’s time to acknowledge the “best” of the worst of the network’s telecast of the 30th Summer Olympiad–if only because the network has the Olympics through 2020. This is a fact, a fixed point in time and space, that we in America are going to have to accept for another three sets of Games (Sochi, Rio, and Peyongchang).
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The Friday Mixtape – 6.29.12 Edition

With Mexico’s presidential elections coming up this Sunday – under no shortage of shadiness, mind you – let’s kick off this week’s edition with Molotov’s “Gimme Tha Power,” (nsfw – language) which still resonates a decade after its original release:

Our next track is a find by our own Andrea Plaid: Esperanza Spalding, who we’ve featured before, teams up with jazz great Joe Lovano for a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Can’t Help It,” in a clip that winds its way thru NYC. And if you’re a fan of Wicked or Rent, keep an extra-close eye on her co-star …

Speaking of finds by friends, the dynamic duo at Disgrasian turned us on to this cross-continental collab between Japanese beatbox wiz Hikakin and Nonstop, a U.S.-based dancer:

Remember “Sh-t Men Say To Men Who Say Sh-t To Women On The Streets”? Check out this Egyptian counterpart, which was posted earlier this month. Directed by Anum Khan with help from HarassMap, “What Men Say to Men Who Harass Women on the Streets” packs an equally potent message.

One more track with a message to close us out: Jasiri X and Rhymefest went to the source when making the video for “Who’s Illegal?,” traveling to Alabama and Arizona and getting a view from the ground-level at the immigration fight in each respective state. The track is currently available as a free download on Jasiri’s Bandcamp site.

Steampunk POC: Nivi Hicks (African-American, Spanish, Lebanese)

Nivi Hicks of SLC, Utah. All images courtesy of Nivi Hicks.

By Guest Contributor Jaymee Goh, cross-posted from Silver Goggles

It’s the first Friday of the month, all over again! Time for another steampunk POC interview, and today, Nivi Hicks of Salt Lake City, UT, claims the spotlight! Nivi’s been seen in her Bombay steampunk outfit, and her style threads influences from South Asia and the Middle East. She’s also one of the organizers of SaltCity Steamfest. Without further ado, Nivi Hicks!

How do you do steampunk? Or how do you steampunk or how do you participate in steampunk? Or what steampunk media do you do (lit, fashion, events)?
I’m a steampunk enthusiast and supporter within my community here in Utah. Events, fashions, icons–you name it, I try to support it. I’ve even taken up the reigns with a group of fellow steampunkians to create Utah’s first ever Steampunk Convention, SaltCity Steamfest. Eventually, I would like to expand into fashion as a model more.

When asked “what is steampunk?!” what do *you* say? 
My escape that lets me dress pretty without having to live to a cookie-cutter expectation (like cosplay can do). It’s what happens when you take the industrial revolution, lengthen it, add steroids, a more exciting history and technical output, some lace, and fantasy–va-la!
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Incomplete: On Community‘s Troy And Abed, Geekdom, And Race

By Arturo R. García

Danny Pudi and Donald Glover (l-r). Courtesy: Hollywood.com/NBC

Since Community is likely going to be a different series whenever it returns, why not introduce a sorely-needed course: Intracultural Communications?
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