our new house

closed. this is the house folx. in setauket, new york. it took us 8 months to get here, in this ridiculous market. but here we are. can’t wait to move in, clean up, furnish and decorate. will be exciting to take our stuff out of storage after 1 1/2 years. may this house be as blessed as our last one – may it be filled with the laughter of family and friends alike. ameen.

we are lady parts

watched the first 4 episodes of ‘we are lady parts.’ wow. it’s one of the best shows i’ve seen. ever. nida manzoor (the writer, creator, director) is an absolute genius. how long have we (muslim/brown) women waited for something like this. can a show this creative and trope-free even be produced in america? i hope so. we need more.

Trailer for The Injured Body

Dear friends and fam, it is with immense pleasure and hope that I would like to share the official trailer for The Injured Body: A Film about Racism in America. I have been working on this documentary (inspired by Claudia Rankine’s poetry) for three years now. I have interviewed remarkable women and collaborated with incredible dancers. My closest partners in this project have been Rajesh Barnabas (cinematography, sound, post production), Mariko Yamada (dance choreography, costume design, translation between dance and film), Erica Jae (photography) and Tom Davis (music) – the most talented and kindest people on the planet. It has been an extraordinary, eye-opening, emotional experience. I hope that some of the beauty and brilliance we experienced while filming will come through in this short preview. I’ll finish editing by the end of this year and will be working with Don Casper on post-production early next year. Pls ‘like’ and comment on YouTube if you can. And pls share widely.

Coming in 2022, this…… is…… The Injured Body.

More info at NeelumFilms.com.

afghanistan <3

thinking about the people of afghanistan – their strength and perseverance in the face of unimaginable horrors and deprivations for 42 years. the soviets invaded in 1979 and left in 1989, this was followed by a cruel civil war, a taliban takeover that devolved into tyranny, and then a brutal american invasion and military occupation which lasted twenty years (2001-2021). as american troops leave, people’s lives have been thrown into a tailspin, once again. the taliban controlled most of the country anyway and now they are back in power. it’s 2001 all over again. and what does american imperialism (with all its talk of democracy and women’s rights) leave behind except for torture sites and malnutrition? nothing. kabul falls like saigon fell in the 1970s, and it’s up to the people of afghanistan to pick up the bombed-out shards of their lives. shame on all those who used afghanistan as a ploy for their great games, proxy wars, and neocon experiments. no more imperialism, war or military occupation. open all borders and allow people to move freely, wherever they feel safe. unequivocal solidarity with all our friends and neighbors in afghanistan who have suffered too much and for too long already.

montauk

back in montauk after some 20 years. it’s the eastern most tip of long island (a very long island indeed). a beautiful, beachy town with an iconic lighthouse, clam shacks, and ice cream parlors. we chose to eat at la fin, a wonderful french restaurant on the harbor. downtown east hampton has a manolo blahnik store btw, for those who are into that kinda thing, and lots of tanned people in spiffy clothes. with its grist mills, gorgeous beaches, and wind mills, this area is a lot like cape cod, but a notch fancier. remember the great gatsby? it was more than 80 F in the afternoon so decided to skip the hike in shadmoor state park. maybe next time. although the bottlenecks and slow traffic around east hampton did not appeal to the husband.

pakistan and india’s independence days

on pakistan and india’s independence days, i dream of a shift away from the gendered nature of colonialism and its legacies. an end to patriarchy, casteism, the oppression of minorities, capitalist greed and its inequities, and all structures of violence in south asia. more water and sustainability, more equality and justice, more comfort and happiness for all. one day, inshallah.

plymouth breakwater

today walked along plymouth breakwater (it protects plymouth sound/anchorages). not interested in plymouth rock, settler colonial myths, or all the pilgrim museums/statues but enjoyed walking along jenney pond all the way to the grist mill. this area is beautiful no doubt, but the blue lives matter flags are disturbing. the arrival of the colonizers is commemorated endlessly with no mention of the indigenous peoples who lived/live here and own this magnificent land. this historical narrative needs to be corrected. we know better.

On indigeneity

Language is important. It can help us clarify our thinking, by crystallizing ideas and making grounded analysis possible, or it can befuddle, disorient, and completely disengage with reality – not only our own but also that of our human family. I will try to be as clear as possible in this post.

I agree with Mary Adams that it’s good Brighton is being exposed for what it is. I have heard stories about how hard it is for Black kids at the town’s high school and how they’re frequently harassed by police, so I never understood the charms of Brighton’s so-called success with diversity.

It’s unfortunate that this unravelling of the Brighton myth is happening at the expense of Robin Wilt, the only Black woman on their town board. She is being persecuted by a large (and extremely loud) portion of Brighton’s Jewish community for posting a picture with Linda Sarsour and saying the words, “Free Palestine.”
That Linda and Robin are both women of color is no accident. Zionism is a European, ethnonational, Jewish-supremacist ideology. How is it supposed to treat people of color or women for that matter?

Amidst all the brouhaha and surreal accusations, the word “indigeneity” has been thrown around by Robin’s attackers. It’s also incorporated into some of the softer liberal Zionist discourse coming from people who support Robin. So let’s be linguistically precise.

Israel is a settler colony. It is justified by the same kind of self-righteous, racist propaganda as America’s Manifest Destiny, “a phrase coined in 1845 and the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent.” At the last Brighton town meeting, one of Robin’s detractors used the words “Gospel-given right” to claim indigeneity to Middle Eastern land. It fits.

Palestinian Jews are indigenous, of course, but the white people ranting against Robin and harassing Palestinian Muslim families in the audience are not. Neither were the founders of Israel. They were white European settlers with generational links to European lands, not Palestine.

What is indigeneity? See this document from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, but here are some ways to understand “indigenous”:

• Self- identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their member.
• Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies
• Strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
• Distinct social, economic or political systems
• Distinct language, culture and beliefs
• Form non-dominant groups of society
• Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities.

The settlers who moved to Israel cannot claim any of these continuities. Neither can they be called a non-dominant group by any stretch of the imagination. Their military, economic, and political power and privilege are obvious. They (Jews with European ancestry in particular) occupy the highest echelons of an apartheid system where the Palestinians are so savagely oppressed even their food and water are controlled.

From the same UN document: “Indigenous peoples often have much in common with other neglected segments of societies, i.e. lack of political representation and participation, economic marginalization and poverty, lack of access to social services and discrimination. Despite their cultural differences, the diverse indigenous peoples share common problems also related to the protection of their rights. They strive for recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources.” — almost a word for word description of the Palestinian struggle.

To co-opt the word “indigenous” and apply it to colonizers is a stunning bastardization and corruption of language.

If 2,000-year-old connections to land define indigeneity, then we are all indigenous to Africa. But I doubt it means that we can (or should) walk into an African country, move into someone else’s house, and resort to ethnic cleansing and genocide in order to be able to return home.

Let’s be careful and intentional with our words. Otherwise “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.”