Friday, May 25, 2007

hell breaks loose in jena... you didn't get the memo?

This is my disclaimer: I do not want to swear. I will try not to swear, but considering the circumstances - if I do, please understand. That being said, I would like to share a troubling story with you; these event's occured a long, long time ago (september 2006) in a land far, far away (jena, louisiana). In a local high school that is 80% white, 3 of the 85 black students in the entire school asked school officials if they could sit in the shade under some tree in the school yard. *(First eyebrow-raiser: it is an intergrated school; students share the courtyard. why in hell are they asking permission to sit down under an MF tree? but the students know their environment way better than I do, and I guess they were just making sure.) The powers that be told the students it was fine; they could sit wherever they wanted. And they did. The next day, the same tree had three nooses (Yes, i can spell. Yes, you can read.) hanging from it. Apparently, some of the majority students did not agree with the school officials. While the principal wanted the students expelled, the superintendent felt the nooses were a "youthful stunt" that deserved nothing more than a slap on the wrist. *(Second eyebrow raiser: did anyone notice if the superintendent had a white hood sticking out of his collar?) All kinds of violence and calamity ensued. Yet delusional Murphy McMillan, mayor of Jena, Louisiana, had this to say: "Jena is a place that's moving in the right direction. Race is not a major local issue. It's not a factor in the local people's lives." If by "right direction" he means "backwards", and if by "major" he means "acknowledged and addressed, and if by "not a factor" he means "totally affects everything we do, whether we are conscious of it or not." - Then hell, I totally agree. Either Jena has a small Af-Am population,, or this isn't an election year....Some BS...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

so close, and yet so far...

Thank you Canada - free healthcare, the Toronto Film Festival, and now a television series that addresses Muslims living in the west IN A REAL WAY. Don't be fooled by the title, which I believe is an intentional juxstaposition of terms that are unabashedly American and expectedly "foreign." "Little Mosque on the Prairie" clues us in immediately to the worlds that will coexist - not collide - in this series. It has good writing with characters that I came to relate to, and at the very least recognize, before I even got through the first episode. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to view some of this cutting edge and yet so timely sitcom (I guess it qualifies as such). The experiences are intensified because the setting is a small town where some people have a mentality of the same name; the entire community is not Muslim, so we see Muslims interacting with non-Muslims as well as Muslims with different perspectives interacting with each other. What I really like is that in just the first episode 3 Muslimahs were distinguished as important characters, and each woman is of a different ethnic background. I am not an Islamic scholar by far, but speaking as a writer i think it's a strong concept that handles the subject matter in a way that is respectful, open-hearted, and clever.

I do not know if such a series could survive in the states, but I would hope so. Sure, some of the humor is esoteric, but hey ask a Muslim friend or acquaintance why it's funny. Better yet - make one, then ask them. This is what I hope the show will do. It's not as important to make Muslims palatable for public consumption as it is to demystify and rehumanize us. It's more than no pork, people. "Little Mosque on the Prairie", like any sitcom, is fiction; you may be offended or misguided if you look to it for the absolute truth or a general consensus about all Muslims (though, you would be misguided to do that regarding anything). Yet, I have to admit that it made me feel good to see a Muslim woman being clever and candid and covered. I saw her and smiled and something inside said, "Me too!" I don't even know what percentage of the cast is actually Muslim, but that doesn't matter. She is there. she is not invisible. People can she her, and therefore people can see me.

But let me warn you now that if you go to YouTube to watch, avoid the comments at all costs because they range from highly supportive to intensely hateful and disturbing. This is common throughout the www, I'm sure, where people can show their asses without showing their faces, but I just don't have the stomach for it. And if you don't either, then don't bother with the comments.