Tag Archives: south asian

“Yes Man” Says Yes to Stereotypes

by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Islam on My Side

I really wanted to like this movie.

With its heartfelt message of optimism and living one’s life to the fullest, I thought “Yes Man” would be a film I could enjoy and appreciate after a week of exhaustive finals and papers. Yet it turns out that the film is filled with thoughtless and ridiculous stereotypes that make me feel anything but optimistic.

Before I saw the film, I already detected some suspicion about the film. A good friend of mine had read the book of the same title and told me the author was motivated to “say ‘yes’ more” by an Indian man he met on a bus. The Indian man’s religion is not disclosed, but it could be argued that the Indian man was Muslim since the author searches for him at one point in the book and finds himself in a predominately Muslim part of town. Oh, and did I mention the book takes place in England?

Not only does the film adaptation take place in the United States, but it also removes the Indian and potentially Muslim character. Instead, the man who inspires the protagonist to “say ‘yes’ more” is a White English man played by Terrence Stamp. The producers must have felt that the audience wouldn’t have made a connection with a wise and inspirational Indian/non-White character.

After Jim Carrey’s character starts saying “yes” to everything, we see him checking his e-mail at work and one of the spam messages reads: “Persian Wife Finder.” An Iranian woman wearing a pink hijaab (headscarf) appears on the screen, while puffy clouds are on time-lapse in the background, and says “I am Faranoosh” as if she’s some kind of character you can select from a “Tekken” video game. As she rotates her body to make herself look alluring, the wind blows her scarf into her face, mocking the way Iranian women supposedly dress and drawing ridiculous laughter from the audience.

What was up with that, Jim? Continue reading

Hair’s To Freedom

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger, originally published at Neesha Meminger

This weekend, I was interviewed for a magazine article. Nothing to do with my book, or even writing, for that matter. The topic of the hour was body image. This is a topic I could go on and on and ON about (and have, on several occasions), but I’ll refrain just this once.

Before the interview, all sorts of thoughts went through my head about what I might talk about — will I do the usual issue of weight and body size/shape? Would I go to the more familiar topic of areas of my body I’ve waged war with? Or would I go into the skin shade territory? So many areas to cover (no pun intended), not enough interview time . . .

So, when the lovely interviewer called me, we had a fantastic, lively, friendly discussion. It was fun and hilarious. We were about forty-five minutes through when I realized all I’d talked about was my hair. My hair. Not the usual trilogy: butt, boobs, belly. Not flab, sag, and lumps. Hair. And not body hair, either.

I had no idea what a huge issue hair has been all through my life. But as I talked to Ms. Lovely Interviewer, I realized that as a Sikh girl-child, then young woman, so many battles over control and power in my house were fought around the territory of my hair. I was not allowed to cut it, there were certain hairstyles I could not wear, and there was just so much IMPORTANCE placed on what I did or did not do with my hair. Continue reading

An increase in hate crimes during election season

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) has been keeping track of an increase in xenophobic violence and rhetoric against South Asians in the weeks and months leading up to the 2008 elections, including assaults targeting immigrants who either supported or were perceived to support President-Elect Obama. Here are a few examples of recent violence against South Asians and other communities of color:

  • Hardwick, New Jersey — On November 6, 2008, an incident occurred in which Alina and Gary Grewal found a cross burned on their front lawn. The cross was wrapped in a congratulatory banner the family had made which read “President Obama, Victory ’08″.
  • Carteret, New Jersey — On October 30, 2008, an incident occurred in which an elderly Sikh gentleman, Ajit Singh Chima, was punched and kicked repeatedly in the face, suffering fractures in his jaw and near his eyes. This occurred soon after a 10-year-old Sikh boy, Gagandeep Singh, was attacked on October 8, 2008, by an individual who pushed him to the ground and forcibly cut his hair.
  • Staten Island, New York — In early November, an incident occurred in which four white men beat a Liberian-American Muslim teenager, Ali Kamara, near his home. The attackers jumped out of a car and assaulted him with a baseball bat after shouting “Obama.”
  • Providence, Rhode Island — In September 2008, an incident occurred in which a Sikh-American man was accosted by an individual who said, “I have a gun in my car and since you are a hajii no one will care if I kill you. You know why the police won’t do anything? Because I got blond hair and blue eyes.” As the assailant left, he screamed, “F*** Arabs and F*** Obama.”

In light of these incidents, SAALT is re-circulating a basic factsheet on hate crimes with answers to frequently asked questions and resources for those in need. To learn more about the work SAALT is doing, and its services and resources for hate crime victims, visit the SAALT website here.