Category Archives: islamophobia

Open Thread: The Boston Marathon Bombings, The Boston Manhunt, And The Race To Racism

By Andrea Plaid

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Different city, same racism.

Boston, as you may know, suffered from two bomb blasts during its marathon bearing its name this past Monday. As the city struggles to recover from this recent tragedy, we’re getting reports that the alleged bombers got into a shootout with law enforcement overnight–including throwing explosives–that moved through Cambridge and Watertown. According to reports, one of the suspects died in the shootout, and the police are waging a large manhunt for the other one. All of this has locked down the city, the reports continue, with MIT, Harvard, and public schools  shut down, public transportation suspended,  air space restricted, and advisories to the residents to stay indoors.

What we’re also finding out is about the suspects themselves: the police killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the shootout and are looking for his brother Dzhokar. The siblings come from the Russian Federation country of Chechnya, in the Caucus region. The brothers are, literally, Caucasians–which, in the US, is the (inaccurate) synonym for white people in general.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Suheir Hammad

By Andrea Plaid

Since it’s National Poetry Month, let’s talk about one of my favorite poets: Suheir Hammad.

Of course, Hammad speaks quite a few women of color’s truth with her classic piece, “Not Your Erotic, Not Your Exotic”:

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Being Brown After The Boston Bomb Blast

By Guest Contributor Deepak Sarma, cross-posted from The Huffington Post

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The bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon are a terrible tragedy and a chilling example of the worst kinds of misanthropic human behavior. I weep for the families and friends for those immediately affected and for those whose lives and memories have forever changed.

I hope that they catch the perpetrator(s) of this crime.

But I worry, especially after inciteful and potentially dangerous rumors, momentarily validated by the NY Post, that automatically point the finger at (an) international terrorist(s), who, is/are in the imaginations of those easily deluded, brown-skinned. The subsequent and unavoidable racial profiling is a slippery slope toward a lynching mentality where color/ethnicity/race (all imagined categories largely invented for economic exploitation and advantage) is proof of guilt, and where all who are imagined to be part of that imagined category are inescapably complicit.

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Watch: Our Own Fatemeh Fakhraie On Al Jazeera

On Tuesday, our own Special Correspondent and founder of Muslimah Media Watch Fatemeh Fakhraie joined a panel on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to discuss Ukranian protest group FEMEN and “Topless Jihad Day.” The panel also features:

Fatemeh and the group lso talk about Western images of Muslim femininity and what it means to be a feminist in Islam. Congrats, Fatemeh!

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Ainee Fatima

By Andrea Plaid

Some folks choose online names–be it a blog title, a Twitter handle, a Tumblr URL–of an attribute they want to aspire to. Then there are those whose monikers fit exactly what they are. Ainee Fatima’s Tumblr name fits her perfectly–she is, indeed, a Badass Muslim Girl.

Ainee Fatima. Photo: courtesy of the interviewee.

Ainee Fatima. Photo: courtesy of the interviewee.

She’s an award-winning spoken-word poet, a woman who makes her Muslim community her priority, and a cartoonist with a scathing wit–and she’s folded of these into her 21-year-old life-in-progress. We caught up with each other between her classes, where we chatted about femme feminism, Gloria Steinem, and “smelling white feminism.”

1) OK, Ainee, that comic of your smelling white feminism had me on the floor screaming in laughter! What inspired that? And are you planning to continue the comics?

Thank you! Well, earlier that day in my Race and Ethics class, we were categorizing traits or groups of people who were considered the Majority and Minority groups in America. We ended up with the Majority containing Race: White, Gender: Male, Sexual Orientation: Cis Heterosexual, Religion: Christian, Class: Middle-High Class. Then, my teacher proceeded to ask which of these categories are the most prevalent in Western society. One of the boys kept insisting that gender was the hot topic, another girl was saying that race was the most prevalent issue.

But the thing is, we can’t really discuss race without discussing class or gender and that’s what intersectional feminism is all about–fighting more than one cause at a time because it’s more than just women’s rights. The thing is, the stigma attached to being white in general is a privilege, which doesn’t really make it a stigma at all. Once you delve deeper into feminist theory, you’ll encounter resistance to whiteness. I mean, try having a Black president only to have people call him the n-word, mention his Arabic middle name and wish for his assassination, or any of the other daily microaggressions that people of color face.

Spark Summit published an article talking about how race is a feminist issue, but not only race–sexism, homophobia, and any other type of discrimination. It’s something that is often forgotten early feminist movements actually excluded women of color just to gain a wider audience, as the article says.

I think that a great way to make the idea of intersectional feminism even more prevalent is with the comics I made: it’s humorous and light-hearted but always packs a punch in the message–and yes, I do plan on making more!

Quoted: On Racial Profiling And Mass Shootings

Let’s review: Any honest observer should be able to admit that if the gunmen in these mass shootings mostly had, say, Muslim names or were mostly, say, African-American men, the country right now wouldn’t be confused about the causes of the violence, and wouldn’t be asking broad questions. There would probably be few queries or calls for reflection, and mostly definitive declarations blaming the bloodshed squarely on Islamic fundamentalism or black nationalism, respectively. Additionally, we would almost certainly hear demands that the government intensify the extant profiling systems already aimed at those groups.

Yet, because the the perpetrators in question in these shootings are white men and not ethnic or religious minorities, nobody is talking about demographic profiling them as a group. The discussion, instead, revolves around everything from gun control, to mental health services, to violence in entertainment — everything, that is, except trying to understanding why the composite of these killers is so similar across so many different massacres. This, even though there areplenty of reasons for that topic to be at least a part of the conversation.

Recounting the truth of these double standards is, of course, boringly mundane, which means my comment on television summarizing them is an equally boring and mundane statement of the obvious. However, as evidenced by the aggressive attempt to turn those comments into controversial headline-grabbing news over the weekend, the conservative movement has exposed its desperation — specifically, its desperation to preserve its White Victimization Mythology.

–From “Time to profile white men?” by David Sirota, Salon

Zwarte Piet: A Racist Caricature?

By Guest Contributor Keisha Wiel, cross-posted from Anthro Meaning People, Dope Meaning Awesome

I wasn’t going to originally post anything on Zwarte Piet but, after seeing discourse after discourse on the holiday of Sinterklaas, I decided to write about it. Ah, where to begin.

I celebrated Sinterklaas as a child. Since my parents were from the Dutch Caribbean, we would go every December 5th to the Dutch consulate in New York City and eagerly sit with the other children (we were usually the only children of color) while Sinterklaas handed out our presents. And, of course, to accompany Sinterklaas, this saintly white man who represented a bishop, were his ‘helpers’ or Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes). These would usually be men, or women, dressed up in blackface with an Afro wig and bright red lipstick. The legend goes that if you’re bad, Zwarte Piet will take you in his burlap sack to Spain. So naturally I was mortified of Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) as a child. You mean to tell me that this dude who dresses flamboyantly and has this jet black makeup on his face is going to collect me and ship me off to Spain with him? OH HELL NO!!

As I grew up and learned about Golliwogs and minstrel shows, I started to notice a pattern. This beloved holiday that I celebrated as part of my ‘heritage’ seemed to overlap a lot with blackface in America. The similarities are undeniable.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: More Scot Nakagawa Love And HBO Def Poet Mark Gonzales

By Andrea Plaid

Considering how you all responded to the excerpt last week, you’re still digging our past Crush Of The Week Scot Nakagawa, especially what he said about voting and the maintenance of white privilege, which just happened to coincide with the R’s and National Black Programming Consortium’s buzzy efforts around the documentary about the 2008 vote in Ghana, An African Election:

I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, back when that La Choy commercial was considered about as offensive as selling water softener as an “ancient Chinese secret.” That was a much more naive time for whites. That naivete was rooted in the unquestioned dominance of whiteness. In fact, so dominant were whites that American was synonymous with Caucasian.

But the racial equity movements of my childhood would soon shatter that naivete, pulling whites into a struggle to maintain their cultural dominance that made the contours and vulnerabilities of whiteness visible to whites, perhaps for the first time. Until then, being the assumed racial and cultural norm of America was fundamental to white identity and to the ethos of American exceptionalism.

But when white cultural advantage was challenged, white folk mobilized. KKK membership grew, White Citizens Councils formed, and the Republican Party stepped in to provide a political vehicle for white backlash that is still in effect today.

And now, as the racial demographics of the U.S. and the world turn to the increasing numerical advantage of non-whites, the backlash movement that peaked in the 1990s is resurgent. Membership in racist Patriot groups and vigilante border patrols is on the rise, and Tea Parties and groups like True the Vote are wreaking havoc on our political process. And they’re not nearly done yet. The global scale of white conservative ambitions can be measured by the body count in what increasingly appears to be a permanent war against the so-called Muslim world, the popular support for which is founded in Islamophobia.

It is in this context that the current voter suppression efforts we are seeing around the country should be understood. Overcoming these efforts in this election cycle is only one among many battles. Unless we see that battle as connected to the battles for immigration rights, religious freedom, racial equity and gender equity, reproductive and sexual freedom, and the battle to curtail the ambitions driving the expansion of American empire, we are missing the dynamics of the larger war and may soon find much more than voting rights among its casualties.”

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