The “Tough Issue” hits newsstands June 1st. I’m honored to have been chosen as one of five featured contributors:
My article, “Alice in TV Land” addresses what went down with ABC’s Alice in Arabia, as well as the divide between media critics and makers but looks to bridge the gap: “As an Arab American feminist trained to critique popular culture, I want to find ways to spark, influence, and create it as well.”
Here’s a pulled quote to wet your appetite:
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RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers, Inc., is an organization for Arab American writers, scholars, and artists. RAWI conferences bring these usual suspects together to share ideas and words by day and to shake our booties by night. This year’s gathering will be held in September in partnership with Mizna, in Minneapolis, MN.
My paper, “Passing for White, Flaming as Arab,” has been accepted — FUN! Here’s the scoop: Many Arab American women writers are mixed-heritage, with one parent of white European descent and the other of Arab descent – myself included. Why, when many of us could “pass” as white, have we chosen to instead “flame” as Arabs, using signifiers to communicate our Arab heritage, in particular through our writing? I suspect the choice is both personal and political. To find out, I will interview a handful of AMAZING writers: Naomi Shihab Nye, Diana Abu-Jaber, Lisa Suhair Majaj, Leila Buck and Amira Jarmakani. I will also include myself in the study, referencing my essay “No Longer Just American” published in the anthology Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity, in which I describe my own experience grappling with identity and choosing not to pass.
Here’s a pic with Leila Buck from the last conference I attended (in 2006) — before our silver streaks came in.
As an Arab American with a background in media criticism, I often feel like a broken record, calling out the endless stereotypes of Arabs in U.S. popular culture. I long for transgressive representations, those that break the mold and offer audiences thought-provoking stories about humanity. When I find them, I exclaim, “Alhamdulillah!”—an Arabic expression that literally means, “Praise be to God,” but culturally translates as: “Hell, yeah!” The independent film Detroit Unleaded deserves such a shout-out.
The Dutch chocolate-milk manufacturer Chocomel has produced a new commercial that has gotten nearly 800k views on YouTube in the three weeks since it was posted. How has a commercial for a sweet dairy drink drawn that kind of attention? By employing old Orientalist and racist tactics, and Arab face. You know the kind: sleazy Arab sheikh tries to get what he wants by luring an innocent white man into his “palace,” where eager, exotic women line the walls.
Although, I must admit they’ve put some fresh spins on an old move. Here’s how:
You may have heard of the classic story Alice in Wonderland. In the 1951 Disney film version of the Lewis Caroll tale, Alice finds herself in a newfound world, where she meets a cast of rude characters with outlandish customs, including a hookah-smoking caterpillar. Now what if instead of falling into Wonderland, Alice were kidnapped and taken to Arabia?