Here’s what should have happened in the 17 years since then: Cape Town, the country’s oldest city with its reputation for being cosmopolitan, ought to have led the way in racial unity. It didn’t happen. Far away from verkrampte Pretoria and even more conservative Bloemfontein, Cape Town failed us. Her people withdrew into their racial enclaves and passed each other warily on the street.
I spent two and a half years in Cape Town before I fled for Johannesburg, like so many other black professionals (ahem). It wasn’t just the stories you’d hear about people of colour being turned away from nightclubs, or how the only other black people in your work place were generally the cleaners. It wasn’t even the near complete absence of racial integration.
What drove me slowly mad was how racism was an elephant in the room that you could not talk about. How white Capetonians would cringe and turn away when the topic came up, or look at you in blank confusion and ask why you were so obsessed with race. It was how, yes, there is racism everywhere in South Africa but in Cape Town it is not possible to even discuss it. And how Cape Town, with its pristine beaches, its lofty Parliament buildings and history of activism, was somehow supposed to be better than that.
And in our haste to one-up each other in the Being Right game, South Africans have singularly failed to stop and listen to each other. It’s the black professionals like myself who fled the city, generally for Johannesburg, and didn’t consider what the glib statement “Cape Town is racist” really meant, and how a generalisation like that was itself prejudiced.
– From “The black professional is not dead,” in The Mail & Guardian.
Fakhraie grew up in a family where religion was respected but not forced on her or her younger brother, Anayat, 24. Her father, born in Iran, did not practice his faith. Her mother, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, studied religion with another woman but didn’t attend services.
“I was raised as a white girl with a funny last name and a foreign dad,” she says. As an adolescent, she was “the black cloud” over her parents’ house. “I was sullen. I hated everything.” Today she says she and her family are close, but her brother, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, remembers her black cloud days.
“At Christmas, we’d be opening presents and she’d be sulking in the corner,” he says. “She didn’t want anyone to take pictures. ‘Do we have to do this?’ she’d complain. She embodied the quintessential teenager angst.”
“I was a ‘why’ person,” she says. “I always wanted to know why.” Why, for example, was her father so strict with her when it came to boys? An avid reader, she began reading about Persian culture, which led her to the subject of Islam. She kept on reading. When she got to college, she read Fatima Mernissi’s “The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam.”
“I could be a feminist and a Muslim,” she says. “I was a feminist before I knew what a feminist was.” Fakhraie’s mother was the family breadwinner and her dad was “Mr. Mom.” She remembers being upset that her mom came home from work and picked up household chores.
“It was like a double shift,” Fakhraie says. “Fairness has always been an integral issue with me.”
–Excerpted from Fatemeh Fakhraie: A Feminist Muslim Breaks Stereotypes
Photo Credit: Utne
By Arturo R. García
I Speak For Myself is a collection about connections: the spiritual to the secular. The public self to the private. One community to another. The point is perhaps made most clearly by Nousheen Yousuf-Sadiq in her essay, “Half and Half”:
After all, I am made up of two parts: my Muslim and American identities. My Muslim identity defined half of my personality, character and individuality, while the other half has been determined by my experience growing up as an American. The balance of the two makes me who I am: an American woman who has discovered her hijab is the greatest beauty secret of all.
Though the contributors’ professions and locations are diverse, some commonalities emerge in the stories shared here: curiosity, confusion (usually some variant of the question, “Oh, you’re really from America?”), and the spectre of Islamophobia that flared up in earnest after the Sept. 11 attacks: “We felt our very identity as Americans was being subjected to scrutiny, challenge, and contestation,” writes Washington Post contributor Hadia Mubarak.
by Latoya Peterson
I’m terrible at remembering to do these kinds of things, but we, as the Racialicious collective, got a lot of love the last few weeks and want to acknowledge that.
Jessica has been named a “Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies” by the University of Windsor. Here’s her statement:
All I know is that for me it is feminisms with an “s.” Feminism for me is so much more than women’s issues, it’s human rights. I think it’s important to pull it apart. One definition is not going to do it.
I think it’s dangerous to have one definition of feminism.
Jess was also awarded the Harmony Award!
Harmony Education Foundation honours Jessica Yee for her work in breaking down barriers of discrimination and fighting for social justice. Her advocacy and activism for a more inclusive and equitable Canada epitomizes our ideal of a “youth leader for social change”.
Just as a visual representation, this is Jessica’s life according to Twitter:
# about to go watch my sister warrior and fave Native hip-hop lyricist Lindsay Eekwol Knight throw it down at the University of Saskatchewan about 15 hours ago via web
in Saskatoon presenting “Workin’ It With Two Spirit Youth” at the All Nations Hope 4th Annual Aboriginal HIV/AIDS & HCV Conference about 24 hours ago via web
Getting on the plane to Saskatoon! (@ Ottawa International Airport) http://4sq.com/b1rKvc 2:17 PM Nov 3rd via foursquare
5:30am train back to Ottawa to speak w/ fellow Onkwehonwe strong woman Ellen Gabriel “Oka Crisis, 20 Years Later” then 4pm plane 2 Saskatoon 9:46 AM Nov 3rd via web
On the train back to Ottawa – here for a whole 4 hours today! Lol (@ Via Rail Train Toronto-Ottawa) http://4sq.com/9qc6ZU 7:59 AM Nov 3rd via foursquare
Press Advisory – YOUTH ACTIVIST JESSICA YEE TO RECEIVE 2010 HARMONY AWARD: TORONTO, Nov. 2 /CNW/ – http://bit.ly/aal1MK 11:16 AM Nov 2nd via twitterfeed Retweeted by JessYee
Nia:wen ko:wa to all my friends, family/of choice, and most of all the youth who this award was for. Love you all so much 10:17 PM Nov 2nd via web
incredibly humbled tonight and blessed to have such an amazing community of support for me to receive 2010 National Harmony Movement Award 10:15 PM Nov 2nd via web
At Six Nations Polytechnic today working with kick-ass First Nations youth across Ontario on HIV leadership prevention http://4sq.com/ahwxpl 8:14 AM Nov 2nd via foursquare
hitting the road to Six Nations for Chiefs of Ontario HIV Young Leaders Forum today! 7:19 AM Nov 2nd via Twitter for BlackBerry®
Girl…celebrate with a nap!
In addition to tirelessly working on the blog carnival, and being our resident Twitter socialite, the fabulous Ms. Plaid was recently spotted on a Women’s ENews panel about “Drawing the Line: Sex and Consent.” Here’s a clip of the live event:
Fatemeh, in the midst of editing and writing, was also quoted in the LA Times, on the inclusion of Iran and Saudi Arabia on a new U.N. agency devoted to women’s rights.
Fatemeh Fakhraei,[sic] the editor of the U.S.-based Muslimah Media Watch, expressed similar concerns.
“It’s important to have representatives from the Middle Eastern region on this board, but it’s equally important to have representatives who are genuinely committed to improving women’s rights,” she wrote.
Y’all see him every day on site – but did you also know that he moonlights as a DJ? Arturo, post a mix!
Nadra Kareem is knee-deep in writing for TheLoop21.com, Change.org and About.com.
Thea is buried in her next novel. She says “after four years of blogging, I am trying to learn to appreciate much slower modes of publishing. :)” But several of her articles for Racialicious are being reprinted in Canadian and American textbooks, including Canadian Content and Opposing Viewpoints.
It’s been a good few weeks for media coverage.
The image at the top is from Essence Magazine’s November Race Issue, where they said:
“Latoya Peterson is like that whip-smart friend who effortlessly breaks down the nuances of White Privilege but can also gab about True Blood. As editor of the blog Racialicious, the 27-year old offers witty, fearless critiques of race and pop culture.”
Clutch Magazine & HP partnered to present 50 Amazing Tech Tastemakers – and they named me one!
I am so honored to be in the company of Tameka Kee and Lynne D. Johnson who are two of my personal tech heroes.
I was also in a young feminist spread over at More Magazine:
I would transcribe the text, but it’s basically my bio and a quote about having women in front of and behind the camera. All of my comments about race ended up on the cutting room floor, which I expected.
Last night, I was on a panel about the Future of Blacks in Television – soon as a video is up, I’ll link to it.
And on to our special guests…
While he’s not officially a member of Team Racialicious, he’s with us 100%, so we were thrilled to see the fabulous Phil Yu (aka Angry Asian Man) hitting the cover of KoreAM:
Jen & Diana have honored him with a Babewatch post.
And speaking of the dynamic duo behind Disgrasian, they were also named in Koream as one of the top 10 Asian American blogs. Heeeeeeelllllllll Yeah!
I was flipping through one of my fave design magazines and spotted Anil Dash, talking about his new company and open government:
And somehow, Baratunde ended up in a Lexus commercial:He talks about it here.
by Latoya Peterson
Muslim women are more high profile than ever in 2010. However, a problem remains: news stories about them are fixated on appearance.
Most major stories about Muslim women revolve around how they look and what they’re wearing — not who they are and what they are doing.
A flurry of articles came forth in both repudiation and defense of the burqa ban, focusing on that little piece of cloth that covers some women’s faces.
Other articles lauded it as “a comfortable garment” and “part of our identity,” condemning the ban as an erosion of personal freedoms and counter to the principles of the French republic.
Very few of the articles included viewpoints of women who wear the niqab, and none of the articles included the perspectives of the French Muslim women who would be directly affected by the ban.
High visibility does not directly translate into having your voice heard.
Read the rest, and show her some love…