Tag: international

December 5, 2012 / / Uncategorized

By Guest Contributor Spectra, media partner for the London Feminist Film Festival; cross-posted from Spectra Speaks

A few months ago, the London Feminist Film Festival approached me for help in reaching out to African feminist filmmakers for their open call. The media activist I am, I admit that I did make them jump through hurdles before I agreed to help them spread the word of the festival on my blog. But it was only fair.

In my relatively short experience as an activist (who is also a person of color), I’ve received so many requests from white-run organizations and campaigns asking me to “help them create more diversity,” often without any proof that they’ve attempted to do any of this outreach on their own. It’s almost as though they view brown people as the people primarily responsible for alleviating the “burden” of creating the diversity they claim to want in their spaces. Oh, who am I kidding? 9/10 times that’s actually the case. But I digress.

After a series of sharp-shooting, poignant questions to the committee (“What have you done to reach out to feminist filmmakers of color?” “Who is missing from your lineup, and why?” “What have you done to make this relevant to African feminists, specifically?”), and receiving thoughtful (and honest) responses, I found myself in a strange place: satisfied and affirmed enough to see myself as partly responsible (as an Afro-feminist) for ensuring their success. I didn’t just write about the festival; I volunteered to be one of their media partners and a judge for one of their jury awards as well.

Why am I telling you this? Well, there are lessons about diversity to be learned (and shared) here. 

Read the Post How to Increase Media Diversity: Three Lessons From The London Feminist Film Festival

September 17, 2012 / / asia

By Guest Contributor Bryan Ziadie

I’ve heard a few friends’ opinions so far about The Bourne Legacy, the latest installment in the Bourne film franchise. The last set of sequences in the film got particular attention. Those scenes take place in Manila. It seems to be the case here in the Philippines that people, at least those I know, managed to stay immersed in the film up until that point. After this, a feeling of strange misrecognition of the landscape took over. This may be because what we’re shown through the camera work in the Manila scenes suggests a perception of the Philippines not unfamiliar to a militarized American pop-culture industry that’s easy to identify with it until you find that familiar spaces have become the focus of the camera’s lens.


One thing that I’ve noticed about First World action sequences that take place in Third World settings is the position of the camera. You often find it hovering above, looking down on metal, shanty-town rooftops as protagonists run across, leaping from one roof to the next either in pursuit of, or escape from, the enemy. A couple examples that come to mind can be found in Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk and, in Inception, the scene that takes place in Mombasa. I can’t actually remember the movie Quantum of Solace very well, but the video game features a shanty-town, rooftop-hopping stage.

(Don’t watch the whole video, it’s actually pretty boring)

But, to say on track, here’s an illustrative scene from Bourne.

(Watch the whole video. It’s actually pretty badass.)
Read the Post The Bourne Legacy And Manila’s Militaristic Mapping

May 5, 2009 / / The Brazil Files
March 19, 2009 / / The Brazil Files

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse


As mentioned by countless writers who dare to venture into the dangerous territory of race and ethnicity, racism is a tricky animal. There are moments when racism stares one right in the face, begging to be confronted via the most obvious of responses, then there are moments when racism hides in the shadows, only to be perceived by the most observant, sometimes the victim alone. Yet what is to be done when considering racism when it has literally crossed borders, cultures, and history? Does it become a new species?

I was faced with this difficult question just last week. On Wednesday, I walked into our teachers’ lounge/meeting room to ask if anyone knew of any Asian restaurants in the city. This inquiry, by the way, is not completely out of left field. Brazil has a large and thriving Asian population, composed primarily of Japanese immigrants and their descendants, in addition to smaller Chinese, Indian, and Thai communities, and many cities in the region in which I live happen to have restaurants that serve Asian food or some Brazilian-Asian fusion dishes. The dialogue that followed, however, was far more out of left field than my request:

    Brazilian Teacher (male, white, 25): “Yeah, there is a Chinese restaurant downtown. They have yakissoba and sushi.

    Me: Oh ok. I thought yakissoba was Japanese, no?

    BT: Meh, Japanese, Chinese, same thing, right?

    Proceeds to do the “Miley Cyrus(also known as “a derogatory gesture that involves using one’s index, and sometimes middle, fingers to stretch the skin around his or her eyes horizontally, in order to make one’s eyes appear like those of people who are of Asian descent”…just in case anyone was lost). Laughs hysterically.

    Me: Takes a deep breath in order to remain composed. Um, no. They have some things in common, sure, but to say they are the same is not exactly correct. I mean the culture is different, the language is different… sometimes the foods have similar origin, but are still different . . .

    BT: Yeah, but Korean, Japanese, Chinese…they all look alike right?!?!? “Miley Cyrus,” proceeds to laugh again.

    Me: Disgusted. No, they don’t actually. Some people may have similar features because there was a lot of mixing going on in Asia for generations…(so flustered at this point, because I am thinking of thousands of years of civilization, and how exactly to explain that to someone in 30 seconds), but there ARE differences. It’s like if I said everyone from Spain, Portugal, and Italy look JUST alike and are all the same just because the majority of people are white. I mean people are different!

    BT: All the same! “Miley Cyrus,”AGAIN

    Towards the end, I decided to return to the original subject to preemptively extinguish a potential fight.

    Me: Ok, whatever. Where is the restaurant?

So by this point, clearly I was fuming. But after the fact, I began to reflect on the exchange. Was I being overly sensitive? Did I miss something in my Brazilian history lesson about it being socially acceptable to derisively mimic people with Asian ancestry in public places? Was I being a “typical American” (read: over-reacting to the tiniest of issues)?

At first, I thought maybe so. I had carried around my own country’s baggage of sullied race relations and unpacked it in another place. I was analyzing the situation through the gray lenses of the United States and our racial past. But then I considered something that had a simple answer, but not exactly the easiest of solutions:

    Is racism culturally relative?

Read the Post The Brazil Files: Is Racism Relative?

February 13, 2009 / / cultural appropriation

By Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie. An expanded version of this piece can be found at Muslimah Media Watch.

Last summer saw the launch of ALO Hayati, “America’s Top Middle Eastern Lifestyle Magazine.” Thanks to a gracious donor, I finally got my hands on a copy of the July 2008 issue.

All lifestyle magazines have an aspirational feel to them, and this one was no different. Chock full of advertisements for Dubai hotels and Swiss watches, ALO wasn’t particularly different than any other lifestyle magazine. Considering the economic situation of magazines, it doesn’t seem like an incredibly auspicious time to launch one aimed at a materialistic lifestyle. I wasn’t able to find any updates about the magazine’s publication on the website, and as far as I’m aware, this is the only edition, though in the magazine they refer to an earlier issue in some places.

As someone who enjoys a good glossy every now and then, I delighted over advertisements with Kim Kardashian, and interview with exclusive designer Bijan, and a fluffy piece on intercultural relationships (though I did not care for the cover teaser: “Shocking Intercultural Stories”).

The magazine featured an interview with Leila Ahmed, which was a great one, likening the current western media representation of Muslim women to the same patronizing Orientalism that played out in the first wave of colonialism in Middle East. Her interview shed lots of light on the history and future of the headscarf. Despite the educational qualities of her interview, I kept thinking, “Who is this educating?”

While not every Middle Eastern person is going to be familiar with the history behind the headscarf, it seems sort of odd to have an educational feature about hijab in a magazine aimed at a demographic that has a fairly lengthy history with headscarves, even if many of them aren’t Muslim. Something about this piece tugged at me. It almost felt as if it was aimed at people who were not Middle Eastern. Read the Post ALO Again: New Lifestyle Magazine More of the Same Old Orientalism

February 3, 2009 / / culture
January 15, 2009 / / art

by Guest Contributor Bianca I. Laureano

I can’t remember where I was or whom I was with when I heard and realized that we are all temporarily able-bodied. I’m sure it was this decade, perhaps 2003, because I really had not thought about my privilege as an able-bodied person until I began my graduate work and met Angel, a woman in my cohort who was focusing on women of Color with disabilities. I also didn’t think about it until I lost one of my abilities.

Being trained as a scholar specializing in intersectional theory and thought, disability was a “difference” rarely mentioned and discussed unless Angel brought it up. We can see the continued absence and exclusion of people with disabilities in popular culture. Yet, if they are present, we mostly see how people with disabilities are considered anything but “normal,” and usually there is a level of wanting to find a “cure” to become “normal.”

What would images that view disability as a social construction look like? How can those of us who are educators incorporate discussions of disability into our teaching? Where are resources for us? How can we use popular culture when we teach about disability? Read the Post Disability & Music

January 8, 2009 / / asian