Tag Archives: identity

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part II)

Last week, I asked what exactly it meant to be White. Today, I’d like to step back and show you what it was that brought up this question in the first place.

It was this image here:

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Now that got posted by a friend of mine. Good guy, but with a habit (in my opinion) of reposting whatever liberal dreck pops into his FB feed without taking the time to question it. Allow me to break down why that image is such festering garbage.

First and foremost, it’s unbelievably racist. Not white-hoods-and-burning-crosses racist (we’ll get to them in a minute) – we’re talking the condescending, insidious racism of White liberal elites.

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“Because I’ll endorse Obama and speak at the Women’s March, but **** Asians and Palestinians.”

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Why I Can’t Wait to be a Teacher

John and I recently found out we were accepted into the education program we’d applied to. I wasn’t exactly surprised that we were accepted (since we both have a great deal of experience working with kids), but I was surprised at just how ecstatic the news made me. Maybe I’m feeling motivated by my student loans, since they’ve just been there, looming. Maybe I’m just excited to move beyond the academic world of writing essays for affirmation. Then again, maybe I’m just excited to start a job that I love doing.

As I head towards my new career I feel a little torn by the stigma the profession carries. Here in Canada, many people accuse teachers of being overpaid for a job they don’t consider very difficult. Then there are the teachers who have worked for years only to be burned up and spit out by the system they dedicated their lives to. Some of them have asked me if this is really the route I think is best. There’s also the general sentiment that “those who can’t do, teach,” so despite my own excitement over my career path, I often feel the need to defend my choice or explain that “I might explore other options later.” Not to mention that, as a woman, it feels like I’m giving in to that traditional cliche of finding the kind of job that people can classify as “women’s work”.

Yet in spite of all the ideas about teaching that I’ve internalized, or at least had thrown my way, I keep feeling drawn back towards the profession. Finally, I’ve allowed myself to recognize what an amazing and rewarding career path it is. Don’t believe me? Well, let me explain.

You get to be creative

Last summer I got a job running a kids’ program at the local library. My role consisted of reading books to kids, encouraging them to read at home, and doing a few crafts with them. Basically I was babysitting them for an hour so that their parents could have a break.

While I knew I would enjoy entertaining the kids and reading children’s books (who doesn’t love reading children’s books?), I had no idea I would become obsessed with crafting and building forts. After a year of focusing my attention on a computer screen, I was suddenly able to make stuff by hand. It was bizarrely exhilarating.

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A few things I made out of old fridge boxes for the kids to play in. The Minecraft creeper is a little worse for wear, but that’s because the kids were throwing beanbags into his eyes and mouth. The fishing poles that the kids would drop into the fishing pond also became thoroughly destroyed.

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Rachel Brown on Food, Religious Identity, and the Appeal of Muslim Extremists

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear PhD candidate Rachel Brown speak about her research on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities. I found Brown’s talk fascinating and contacted her soon afterwards; I wanted to find out if her work was publicly available so I could write about it here on the blog. While Brown has written a chapter on her work for an academic publication it hasn’t been published quite yet. Lucky for me, Brown was willing to share a draft with me. Throughout this interview I will be referring to, and occasionally quoting, that draft in order to give you context for the questions I ask Brown.

According to Brown, her “primary research interest lies in the study of immigrant religious experience and how members of immigrant communities negotiate their religious identities through food and food practices in their host countries.” In order to write on this topic, Brown conducted fieldwork and semi-structured interviews in both Paris, France and Montreal, Quebec.

This was the most French gif I could find.

Kat: Hi Rachel, thanks again for being willing to share your research with me and our readers. Before I dive into the questions I have from reading your draft, can I ask, what drew you to this area of study?

Brown: I came to the project out of a love of all things food and all things France. On one of my many visits, I noticed that how and what the Muslim community in France ate was a point of interest for media, politics, and everyday conversation on the street between friends and neighbours. There was clearly a subject to be addressed. I figured if I was going to be in the field for a year I might as well be somewhere I love and studying something I am passionate about, and so I set out to study the topic of food and religion. As I got further and further into the topic I realized just how essential food practice is to identity, especially religious identity and my research has grown exponentially ever since. The importance of food in religious identity negotiation for immigrants can be seen across a variety of locations and traditions.

Kat: I’m also curious about the technical side of things. Did you intentionally limit your case studies to individuals from the Maghreb? If yes, then why? Also, how did you go about arranging these interviews, or even making these connections in the first place?

Brown: I definitely limited my study to individuals from the Maghreb. I did this because the largest Muslim community in both France and Quebec comes from the countries of the Maghreb. This is not only because of proximity, of the Maghreb to France, but also because of a colonial history between France and the countries of the Maghreb. When one thinks of Muslims in France, this is most often the community that comes to mind.

In terms of arranging the interviews, this was a tough process. I started by going to the Grand Mosque of Paris and just getting to know people there. I had to build up trust, and spent many hours just helping out at the mosque in order to show that I was not a journalist (a profession folks are very hesitant of in France) and that I meant well with my research. After people got to know me, some started to agree to do personal interviews with me. Once I conducted the first interviews the people I interviewed then put me in contact with friends or family members to interview. So I followed a snowball methodology. It was not easy to get people to talk to me, but because my topic is such an approachable one (who doesn’t want to talk about food?), it made it a little bit easier to get people to agree to interviews. Having the personal connection, and a validation from friends or family members that had already done the interview was also key. Continue reading

BURAAQ: Two Brothers, A Superhero, And the Truth About Islam

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Kamil and Adil Imtiaz.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to connect with Adil Imtiaz, one half of the two sibling team responsible for the comic book BURAAQ, which stars a Muslim superhero. While he was the illustrator starting out he shared, and continues to share, creative responsibilities with his brother Kamil, and was more than happy to talk to me a little bit more about how this project came to be and why.

Ms. Marvel, as you may have guessed, came up in conversation, and I ended up learning a few things about Islam that I didn’t originally know.
Throughout our talk it was clear that this character and all he presents is a passion for Adil, and that he believes it can, and has done, good things for Muslim youth.

After thanking him for finding the time to speak with me about his work we got right down to questions and answers, the latter of which he was very ready to provide.

Evan: Now I can’t wait to get into talking about BURAAQ, but before we get there would you like to say a few words about yourself?

Adil: Adil Imtiaz is my name. I’m an IT professional, just so you know. And I came here from Pakistan back in 1990; me and my  brother and my family. So we’re here with our families and that’s pretty much it as far as my background is concerned.

Evan: Would you say that your interest in comic books began at a very young age?

Adil: Absolutely. Even in Pakistan as kids, my brother and I used to have a stack of comic books by our bedside. Every night we used to read Marvel, DC, superhero stories. We were, and still are, fascinated with sci-fi and superhero stories and characters.

And movies, of course. Hollywood as you can see is all about superhero films. And we used to draw comics and superhero characters as kids. I got sidetracked when I had to focus on higher education, pursuing a career. I had to put it on the back burner so to speak.

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Evan: In the PDF I was given to review you and your brother’s mission was very clearly stated, and I’m just going to reiterate it for all my readers:

  • To provide a clean, fun (halal) and positive entertainment media alternative for our Muslim youth.
  • Reconnect our Muslim youth to Islam and make them feel proud to be a Muslim.
  • Enable interfaith dialogue and increase positive Islamic awareness.
  • Our principles are based on the Quran, Islamic values, and the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

How long this been in the works? It seems particularly relevant now given recent events in North Carolina [with what I’m going to call a hate crime]-

Adil: Well, no, actually. This is something, the idea was born back in 2009 actually. Especially after 9/11 things changed in the US. And in the media, traditionally, Arabs and Muslims have been portrayed in a negative light in Hollywood, but after 9/11 things really picked up steam; a bunch of crazy people around the world who claim to be Muslims and other agencies at play, not to get into politics…

Sammy Sheik as Mustafa in American Sniper.

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Ms. Marvel, #11: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel11As predicted in my last review, this issue does in fact feature the downfall of the villainous Inventor. What I did not foresee, however, is how Alphona would be bringing his A-game when it came to illustrating our shapeshifting heroine’s triumph over evil. Seriously, there are some jaw-droppingly beautiful splash pages featured here.

For the most part my recaps of Ms. Marvel are exactly that, short summaries of what went down in addition to some exploration of any themes therein, so I feel it only fair to take a few paragraphs to focus on the art itself. To begin with, a “splash page” is:

“a page in the comic book where there are no other panels and the character or scene fills the entire page of the comic book.”

Issue #11 features three such pages, which would be more than overdoing it according to J. Caleb Mozzocco, one of my favourite comic book journalists. The reason for that being when you only have twenty-ish pages of comic [21 in this case, including the recap page] having one of them taken up by a single panel can make it feel like you’re not getting enough bang for your buck. Rest assured that that could not be further from the truth in this case-

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While the entire page is indeed taken up by a single illustration there’s a strong sense of movement, with readers being able to trace Kamala’s journey through the innards of the deathbot with ease. The word boxes help to anchor a start and end point, and the intricacy of the gears as well as her cartoonish contortions keep you from turning the page even after you’ve finished reading the words. I could go on praising Alphona’s work, though, so as to the actual narrative- Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #10: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel10Kris Anka on covers, I heartily approve. I have been a fan of that dude for years, and his presence on this title is not the only pleasant surprise for the issue. [Unpleasantly, this review is late as #10 dropped December 17th, but some of us have to take a vacation sometime]

To put things super bluntly, everything is coming to a head. In this case “head” means “epic showdown”, and I never use the word “epic” lightly, even when it’s tucked away in the definition of another word. Compared to the last issue, where I had to break up what happened into several different levels, what takes place here is relatively straightforward-

As I mentioned last time, Issue #8 kicked off a four-part arc titled “Generation Why”, and the reason for that is finally revealed. Young people have been allowing The Inventor to use them as living batteries for his machines because they’ve been convinced they’re slackers who are just coasting through life, something that Gordon actually touched on several years ago when he wrote “In Defense of This Generation”. To sum up his almost-two-thousand-word post, we get the short end of the stick, but it’s not like we’re to blame for the world we live in. Let’s just say that Kamala agrees with my co-writer exactly:

“We’re not the ones who messed up the economy or the planet. Maybe they do think of us as parasites, but they’re not the ones who are gonna have to live with this mess–“

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Ms. Marvel, #9: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel9I probably should have mentioned this in my review for the last issue, but the new story arc that started with Issue #8 is titled “Generation Why”, and this week’s installment brings us to the halfway point of that tale. It’s also a pretty fitting title, seeing as questions appearing almost faster than they can be answered.

Eesh. There is a lot to cover. Let me try to break things up a little-

What Happened On The “Universal” Level

Having Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans on the cover is a pretty good indicator that things are going to get a little bit bigger. After a fight that essentially leaves Kamala completely drained she’s whisked away by Lockjaw to New Attilan. These may seem like gibberish words to the less comic savvy, but the redheaded royal ruler explains to her that:

“Long ago, one of your human ancestors was genetically altered by the Kree — an alien race. The genetic legacy has been passed down through the generations– to you.

You’re Inhuman.”

That clears up where the Pakistani-American teen got her powers, and presents the yet another question of “Now what?” Medusa expects her to stay in her new home, but Kamala’s having none of it and once again escapes via teleporting canine. Inhuman physician Vinatos wishes her good-bye “For now,” meaning that she’s sure to rub shoulders with her superpowered kin in the near-ish future. Continue reading