Category Archives: activism

Howard Zinn: Don’t Despair about the Supreme Court

Howard Zinn: Let us not be disconsolate over the increasing control of the court system by the right wing.

The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice Before the Law,” have always been a sham.

No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence–an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–be fulfilled. More here.

violence on women’s bodies

whether violence is related to the state and its need to control/suppress, capitalism and the policing of racial and caste hierarchies, or patriarchal iterations of societies and religions, somehow it always ends up being inscribed intimately on the bodies of women.

from the gang rape in pakistan where a woman was dragged from her car and assaulted in front of her children, to the story of an 86-year old grandmother raped and brutalized in india, from the sterilization of women via large numbers of unexplained hysterectomies in american concentration camps run by ICE, to the use of tear gas and other chemical weapons on protestors when they disrupt women’s menstrual cycles and are linked to higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth, the spectacle of sadist transgressions against women’s bodies and minds continues. it’s hard to take.

Aur Woh Rapist Ho Tum – Chile Anthem in Pakistan

Members of Aurat March in Karachi perform ‘Un Violador en Tu Camino,’ the Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim shaming that’s become an international feminist anthem. They say:
Lend your voice in solidarity with survivors. Lend your voice in anger to say, “Never Again”. We know who the rapists are. We will not allow rape to go unpunished. We will not tolerate a culture that enables rapists. We are not victims. We are not helpless. United, our power is enough.

The Injured Body: Lauren Jimerson

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Lauren Jimerson, art therapist and fine artist, originally from the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, near Buffalo, shares the story of a recent micro-aggression:

And she’s like, ‘Where do I know you from?’ and, I said, ‘I don’t know’, like I go a lot of places… I said, ‘Well, I’m affiliated with Ganondagan, have you ever been there?’ And she said no. And then she made a comment about how she thought, or she knew (I feel like she might have said she knew) I had to be Asian, or Oriental, or she said something like that. And, I personally took offense to it.

And it’s not the thought of being Asian. It’s connected to this idea that Native Americans look a certain way. You know, due to images that are out there, in mainstream media, and there’s also the concept of like, all the Indians are dead, you know, like they don’t exist anymore. And even though I mentioned Ganondagan and at one point I said something about being Native American, she still was like, I was Asian.
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microaggressions #racism #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #rochesterny #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

A Thin Wall (Ahmed, 2015)

When a skilled filmmaker writes a review of your film – thank u so much Neal Dhand:)

‘There’s such a mixture of form here: talking head, staged interviews; two voiceovers; handheld, spur of the moment interviews; animation; traditional B-roll. It’s collage, but also a good example of the myriad ways to recall and/or discuss a difficult event – just sitting down and talking won’t do it justice, you have to get at it from multiple angles.

It’s the uncommon film that maintains the feeling of refusal to look away, while also, and seemingly contradictorily, refusing to show those images that we might typically look away from. Much of that comes from the openness with which the subjects in the film speak, including on-the-street interviewees (though I’m sure many didn’t make the cut).

I have no doubt that if Ahmed had wanted to she could have found a trove of images, testimonials, etc, that delve into the horror show that was much of Partition. It’s not that these aren’t worthwhile, it’s that she hopes we know the history already, and that we can put our focus on the human, living element.’ More here.

The African Gaze

Amy Sall: This course is an exploration of post-independent / post-colonial visual culture in Africa (from the late 1950s onward). We will be looking at the ways in which artistic expression in the form of African cinema and photography engendered discourses concerning identity, power, and self-determination.

Colonial photography deprived Africans of agency, rendered them voiceless and classified them as subaltern. In colonial photography, African people were subjected to a physical positioning and gaze
which took away their autonomy and allowed western viewers to perceive them as primitive.

African photographers and filmmakers from just before independence and onward (and in some cases even earlier), were able to reclaim this power and allow their communities to see themselves as they were, and explore their social, economic, and political conditions from their own perspective.

Drawing from key texts to frame our discussions, as well as important works from influential African photographers and filmmakers such as Malick Sidibé, Seydou Keïta, Ousmane Sembène, Souleymane Cissé and others, we will identify the ways in which The African Gaze was instrumental in reclaiming power, visibility and dispelling colonial myths. More here.

How to Dismantle White Supremacy

Barbara Smith: As I thought about the possibilities of the Hamer-Baker Plan, I realized that there are already innovative strategies that would be effective in alleviating the day-to-day consequences of structural racism. Here are some that come immediately to mind. The Nurse-Family Partnership pairs first time, low-income mothers with visiting nurses who help families get a healthy start and work toward economic stability. The Harlem Children’s Zone offers wraparound programs for children, from birth through college, assisting their families to overcome poverty and ensuring their academic success. Cure Violence (formerly CeaseFire) uses a highly effective public health model, including violence interrupters, to end gun violence. The Green New Deal recognizes that environmental devastation disproportionately affects communities of color and that interventions in these communities need to be a priority. It also would be a source of thousands of new infrastructure jobs. Medicare for All would address racial health disparities resulting from the lack of access to affordable quality health care. The severely disproportionate impact of Covid-19 upon communities of color shows the pressing need to establish health care as a human right.

Currently, initiatives that focus on inequality in specific sectors like education, health care, and criminal justice are not aligned with one another, are seldom brought to scale so that they have maximum impact, and may not operate with the conscious goal of challenging white supremacy. The Hamer-Baker Plan would close these gaps and encourage integrated approaches.

For example, if quality education were a priority, there would be an understanding that stable, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, access to excellent, affordable health care, and minimal exposure to trauma are all critical components of children’s educational success. A holistic approach could make it possible for America to have a robust social safety net for the first time, benefiting people of every background.

[…] It would be groundbreaking for Hamer-Baker to use an intersectional approach based on the fact that misogyny and heteropatriarchy are integral to the functioning of white supremacy. The plan would consistently take gender, gender expression, and sexuality into account, and create solutions to address the specific impact of racism upon the lives of women, transgender, and queer people of color. New York’s Audre Lorde Project exemplifies this approach. Founded in 1994 as a community organizing center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, and gender-nonconforming people of color, it has been centrally involved in the fight against police brutality and in coalitions for racial, gender, social, and economic justice. More here.

At Least 37 Million People Have Been Displaced by America’s War on Terror

‘At least 37 million people have been displaced as a direct result of the wars fought by the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a new report from Brown University’s Costs of War project. That figure exceeds those displaced by conflict since 1900, the authors say, with the exception of World War II.

The findings were published on Tuesday, weeks before the United States enters its 20th year of fighting the war on terror, which began with the invasion of Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001; yet, the report says it is the first time the number of people displaced by U.S. military involvement during this period has been calculated. The findings come at a time when the United States and other Western countries have become increasingly opposed to welcoming refugees, as anti-migrant fears bolster favor for closed-border policies.‘ More here.

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: the 21-year-old British student with a million-dollar book deal

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, from London, was 19 and studying English, Chinese and anthropology in Aberdeen when she began writing what would become Ace of Spades. The young adult novel, which follows two black students trying to find out who is spreading damaging rumours about them at their elite private school, was snapped up this week, along with a second novel, by Macmillan in the US for a seven-figure sum. It will be published next June.

“I was in my first year at university and I didn’t have many friends because I don’t drink as I’m Muslim, so I’d be in my room trying to figure out what to do. I was watching a lot of TV shows and I binged Gossip Girl in a few days,” said Àbíké-Íyímídé, who is currently waiting for her term to start – remotely. “I loved it so much but I was really sad that there weren’t many people who looked like me in it. I thought it’d be so cool if the shows I grew up with, like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, had more black people in them, so I started planning a story. I’d usually do uni during the day, then come home and write until 4am.” More here.

Any resistance to state violence is heroic

I was disturbed to see a Rochester media personality (no name necessary) talk about how ‘outside agitators have our city in their crosshairs. They’re bloodthirsty. They’re hell bent on spreading lies. They couldn’t care less about #DanielPrude.’ She went on to pray for Rochester. 1000 likes on twitter and many messages of support from a lot of white people.

Since the uprising started, there has been an effort to distinguish the ‘good’ protestor from the ‘bad’ protestor. Let’s not. It’s the surest way to paint oneself into a corner.

We, Muslims, have been labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for a long time, especially as the wars on our bodies/humanity were ramped up. We’re either Islamists or secularists, moderates or extremists, people the West can work with or threats it must contain. It’s a known strategy.

‘This categorisation [is] not new. Literature produced during the colonial era, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially by orientalist scholars in Britain and France, depicted Muslims in the same binary manner. “Good” Muslims were those who either collaborated with the colonial enterprise or accepted the values and customs of the dominant power. The rest, the “bad” Muslims, those who “resisted” religiously, culturally or politically, were systematically denigrated, dismissed as the “other” and repressed as a “danger”. Times have changed, but the old mindsets and simplistic portrayals continue to cast a shadow over today’s intellectual, political and media debate about Islam.’

The thing is, whether they put us down as ‘good’ protestors or ‘bad’ ones, the war against our existence is not going to let up. Let’s not fall for their categorizations, their language, their instinct to divide and co-opt.
The state commits surreal, incomprehensible violence – on the streets, at the border, at detention centers and torture sites, through mass incarceration and the criminal justice system, and with actual bombs tearing into human flesh. Any resistance to state violence is heroic.

The Injured Body: Chronology

I read Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ in 2015 I think (it came out in the fall of 2014) and started thinking about a film that would use micro-aggressions to approach the broader subject of racism in America. I remember this conversation with friends in 2016 where I was able to articulate some of the ideas swirling around in my head. Rajesh and I started to shoot in 2017. I’ve always wanted this project to be bigger than the film, discussing some of those ideas with Luticha in particular. Now that I’m transcribing the interviews we shot 2-3 years ago, there’s such resonance with what’s happening right now. I hope to share with our community soon:)