this afternoon we drove along ocean drive and stopped along the way to take pictures. first we considered the breakers – one of the most over-the-top bellevue mansions. it was $78 for three people to visit. aitezaz and i had already seen it. so i showed a picture to my daughter and asked her if she wanted to visit a fake american version of versailles. she looked at the picture, turned and walked away, saying softly (as if it were the most sensible thing in the world): ‘eat the rich.’ lol. this is my child. . #newport #rhodeisland #oceandrive #newportmansions
i woke up at 5am so decided to go for a long explore. walked along bellevue towards casino terrace and then back to the hotel and in the other direction on touro street. everywhere an abundance of flowers, lovely fragrances and birdsong. . newport #rhodeisland
after relaxing at the wonderful hydrangea house, right in the middle of downtown newport on bellevue ave, we decided to do the famous cliff walk. the harsh daylight was beginning to soften. the sun was about to set. such gorgeous views. . #newport#rhodeisland#sunset#cliffwalknewport
left on the ferry from port jeff to bridgeport, CT, and then rhode island at 9am this morning. now ready for lunch at cru cafe in newport. love this town. we used to visit often from CT. back after many many years:)
many times, it has been pointed out to me how patriarchy is older and deeper than racism. case in point? (1) black men got the vote before women did and (2) we’ve had a black male president but still feel nervous about a woman president.
this line of reasoning makes me cringe. to start with, what came first is not a cogent argument and oppression olympics are meaningless. also, the absorption of POCs into systems that are designed to crush them, is not progress but in fact a shoring up of the legitimacy and power of said regimes.
in the same way, women and LGBTQI folx joining the american military is not an achievement when the entire purpose of the military is to establish empire – use extreme violence to maintain unjust structures that kill and rob the most vulnerable, the poorest, the most disadvantaged.
how can such a world order help women, POCs and queer people? it is no coincidence that we are seeing the same hierarchies, policing and violence right here in the US.
this is a good article about the historical context within which to locate present day ‘karens’. in time magazine, no less.
Cady Lang: The historical narrative of white women’s victimhood goes back to myths that were constructed during the era of American slavery. Black slaves were posited as sexual threats to the white women, the wives of slave owners; in reality, slave masters were the ones raping their slaves. This ideology, however, perpetuated the idea that white women, who represented the good and the moral in American society, needed to be protected by white men at all costs, thus justifying racial violence towards Black men or anyone that posed a threat to their power. This narrative that was the overarching theme of Birth of a Nation, the 1915 film that was the first movie to be shown at the White House, and is often cited as the inspiration for the rebirth of the KKK.
“If we’re thinking about this in a historical context where white women are given the power over Black men, that their word will be valued over a Black man, that makes it particularly dangerous and that’s the problem,” says Dr. Apryl Williams, an assistant professor in communications and media at the University of Michigan.
“White women are positioned as the virtue of society because they hold that position as the mother, as the keepers of virtuosity, all these ideologies that we associate with white motherhood and white women in particular, their certain role in society gives them power and when you couple that with this racist history, where white women are afraid of black men and black men are hypersexualized and seen as dangerous, then that’s really a volatile combination.”
Williams says the exposure is challenging this position. “That’s part of what people aren’t seeing is that white women do have this power and they’re exercising that power when they call or threaten to call the police.” More here.
saw ‘au revoir les enfants’ for the third time and loved it even more. there is a simplicity and natural rhythm to it that’s incredibly difficult to orchestrate and capture on film. it’s unaffected.
there is a universality to the film. although it’s semi-autobiographical (louis malle went to a boarding school during the german occupation of france in the second world war), the film at its core is about difference. how it seduces and threatens, how it must be rooted out and disappeared, how it’s delineated and construed by power.
there is also an important socio-economic subtext to the story. the rich are so easily beautiful. even children seem to sense it.
the scene at the end, when children are picked out of a school assembly (their names read from a list), and asked to separate from the group and go stand against a wall, is a clear comment on the arbitrariness of who is deemed valuable or not, who ends up on the right side of the state or not, how easy it is to cross that liminal space, and how war intensifies the good vs evil binary. without intrusive music or sentimentality, ‘au revoir les enfants’ moves deeply. on hbo max and youtube.
i have no respect for christiane amanpour, in spite of the accent and eastern last name. to frame a discussion about the illegal annexation of west bank territory (and the decades long brutal occupation of palestine) by using talking points from tzipi livni, jared kushner and the trump administration is not just lazy journalism, it’s obscene. surely amanpour has read a book or two about palestine. maybe she’s been there, without being on an isareli government tour? she’s supposed to be a ‘veteran journalist.’ incredibly impressed by dianna buttu who maintains her sang-froid in the face of the same old, tired, meaningless script (why do palestinians blow every chance they get at peace) and keeps reiterating the need for economic sanctions. i know this is only cnn, but still. watch interview here.
trying to avoid rants and engage in conversation, as that’s the world we want to build, the world we must prefigure, where everyone has worth and dignity and our relationships are dynamic and balanced.
so just pointing out, with respect, that one cannot support BLM without supporting their very clear stance on palestine (read their statement on palestine and israel). one cannot admire angela davis without acknowledging her support for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions – a palestinian-led movement for equality and justice). one cannot fight settler colonialism and racism in one context while ignoring settler colonialism and racism in another.
if people don’t know about palestine, now is a good time to learn. while we’re resisting police brutality and asking for this racist institution to be defunded, learn about ‘deadly exchange’ whereby american law enforcement is trained in israel with israeli police, military and the shin bet. look up jewish voice for peace’s work on this. the knee-on-the neck, for example, is a well-known staple of israel’s occupation of palestine. if u need books or resources, let me know. the more we know, the better poised we will be for this fight.
Friends, I am excited to share that The Injured Body: A Film about Racism in America is now fiscally sponsored by New York Women in Film & Television (see below) and that we recently got a grant from First Unitarian Church of Rochester for post-production. We are also updating our website (will share soon). There is still a lot of work to do, but we are moving forward. More here.
heartbroken by the death of sarah hegazi, a 30 year old queer activist who was imprisoned, placed in solitary confinement, and tortured by egyptian police for raising a rainbow flag at a concert. she was given asylum in canada and had been living there, in exile, since 2018.
in her suicide note she wrote: ‘to my siblings – i tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me. to my friends – the journey was harsh and i am too weak to resist, forgive me. to the world – you were cruel to a great extent, but i forgive.’
the tributes by her community are beautiful and heartrending. ‘a reminder as queer people, that we are not meant to survive…’
as we rise up against police brutality here in the US and thousands march for black trans lives in brooklyn, i cannot help but think about the broader policing of bodies and minds, of the vulnerability of queer and trans lives, of the state’s brutal mechanisms of course, but also our co-option of its violent borders and othering in order to demarcate and maintain our own heteronormative privilege.
talking about the policing of borders, perhaps political asylum is not the panacea for oppression elsewhere, but rather less imperial policing of movements for justice and democracy emerging in the rest of the world. it would allow people to stay home, where they can be connected, supported, and centered.
As I end my Instruments of Memory IG takeover, I would like to thank my team. Filmmaking is all about teamwork and I am lucky to have collaborated with some exceptionally gifted artists and human beings on ‘The Injured Body.’
I will continue to edit and transcribe interviews and I will be posting images and thoughts on my IG. Please follow me @mara__ahmed to stay in touch and learn more about the film. At this historic moment in our country (and around the world), let’s vow to eradicate racism in our families and communities, but also within ourselves. A better world is possible.
Thank you once again to Instruments of Memory and Claudia Pretelin for this wonderful opportunity.
Photographs of Rajesh Barnabas [Cinematography], Mariko Yamada [Dance Choreography], Erica Jae [Photography], Tom Davis [Musical Score], Imani Sewell [Soprano], Darien Lamen [Sound Design, Photo by Aaron Winters] and Jesus Duprey [Additional Camera] (see more photos on IG)
friends, i am overjoyed to see a much larger, broader contingent of people embracing #BLM and anti-racism language. the word ‘performative’ has been bouncing around but i think that there is a sincere wish for knowledge and participation, and i applaud those who are brave enough to ask for direction.
it’s stunning to me that ‘modern life’ (in what we like to call the ‘first world’) is so terribly fragmented, that the grotesque inequities in this country are just now becoming visible to all.
i also hope that there will be a second wave of awakening and reckoning in which americans will recognize the violence and horror they visit on the rest of the world. the systems and hierarchies we are fighting here are worldwide. we cannot abolish the police, without abolishing the brutal occupation and ongoing annexation of palestine. the two are inextricably tied together.
as far as joining the movement and making a dent, it might help to think in terms of work. posting on social media is good, but what can we contribute in terms of work. the work can be community-oriented but it can also be internal. how do we eradicate racism (as well as sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, anti-semitism, islamophobia, etc) within ourselves and in our closest circle of friends. what should be our strategies when we encounter bigotry in our families? how do we change the DNA of our own thoughts and worldview?
work requires time and energy, it exacts a certain cost. this is what’s needed right now.
From Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric:
‘Perhaps each sigh is drawn into existence to pull in, pull under, who knows; truth be told, you could no more control those sighs than that which brings the sighs about. // The sigh is the pathway to breath; it allows breathing. That’s just self-preservation. No one fabricates that. You sit down, you sigh. You stand up, you sigh. The sighing is a worrying exhale of an ache. You wouldn’t call it an illness; still it is not the iteration of a free being.’
‘The Injured Body’ weaves together an alternative narrative strand told through dance and movement, mostly choreographed by Mariko Yamada. Since prejudice is largely a matter of reading bodies in particular ways and racism is received by and carried in the body, dance is the perfect medium to underline and explore the personal stories shared in the film.
Film stills with Mariko Yamada, Joyce Edwards, Nanako Horikawa, Andrea Vazquez-Aguirre Kaufmann, Cloria Iampretty, Sraddha Prativadi, Sejal Shah, María José Rodríguez-Torrado, Alaina Olivieri, Rosalie M. Jones, and Andrew David Photography by Mara Ahmed @mara__ahmed
Claudia Rankine in ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’: ‘Yes, and the body has memory. The physical carriage hauls more than its weight. The body is a threshold across which each objectionable call passes into consciousness—all the unintimidated, unblinking, and unflappable resilience does not erase the moments lived through…’
The women interviewed for ‘The Injured Body’ share stories of micro-aggressions and parse their cumulative effect on the mind and body, but they also describe their visions for a world without racism or violence. This is a crucial part of the film, as imagining a better world is an important step towards achieving it.
In order to include a diversity of voices, we interviewed women one-on-one but also in groups, where the conversation was more fluid and informal. Here are some of our panelists.
Luticha A Doucette, Marcella Davis, Khadija Mehter, Muna Lisa, Yogi Indrani, Pamela Kim, Tianna Mañón, Mercedes Phelan, and Erica Bryant All photography by Erica Jae (see all photos on IG)