Category Archives: Religion

A Girl Like Me

Teenage filmmaker Kiri Davis created a short film about race and young women in America. She recreated the “doll test” that was used by Dr. Kenneth Clark to settle Brown vs. Board of Education. She documents the result in her 7 minute documentary.

This video reminded me of a time I was helping out with arts and crafts as part of a VBS style church ministry at the Boys and Girl’s club several years ago. My friends had dragged me there and I sat at a table with 10-20 children aged 5-10 years old not sure what to do. They were all coloring pages of a Bible-themed coloring book. The girl sitting beside me was maybe five or six years old, and black. She kept asking me what colors to use and if she had picked the right color. When she got to the skin color, she picked up a peach colored crayon and said, “this is the right color, right?” I was taken aback. I tried to explain that she could use whatever color she wished and that the disciples and characters in the Bible weren’t white anyway. Still, she chose the peach color because it was the “right” color.

How is that we are still teaching young women that the lighter skin is better than darker skin, that light-skinned means good, beautiful, pure, nice, etc?   Lindsay Cortwright

Egypt’s Brotherhood Blasts UN Women’s Document

Sarah El Deeb’s article discusses the opposition that a UN Women’s document has received from the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt. The group has opposed this document because of clauses within it that they consider incompatible with the tenants of Islam. Actual details of the document have yet to be released pending negotiations. Officials are remaining optimistic that the document will pas, but there is speculation that Egypt will seek the choice to opt out of sections of the document before passing it. Libya has also publicly rejected the document. Egypt has called for an amendment to the document before they would approve it. Issues lie in the differences in interpretations of ideologies of Islamic law. The rise in Fundamentalist groups as a result of protests and political upheavals in the region has led to more traditional interpretations as well as an increase in violence against women. Women activists have responded on both sides, some agreeing with the document and others with those who have challenged it. Issues between differences in interpretations have created contention amongst Politicians and activist who have called for stronger protection and enforcement of rights for women. Shannon


“Amreeka” Film Showing 4.18.2011

On Monday, April 18, 2011 the Ethnic Studies Program hosted a film showing of the film Amreeka. Amreeka is the story of an immigrant family’s journey to the US and their introduction to American culture. It also a continuation of their lesson in raw prejudice. Amreeka first deals with problems that many immigrants to US struggle with upon coming to America. Firstly, the audience sees the family, a mother and son, Muna and Fadi dealing with immigrating to America in a post-9/11 world. It is most important to understand that because living in and trying to get into a post 9/11 America is very difficult for most Americans and people of other countries, particularly those who were from the Middle East, were of the Muslim faith or were of Middle Eastern descent. However, the scene where they and their goods are being examined should be regarded with caution. It is easy to say that they are being questioned and searched because they are not only foreigners but also Middle Eastern. However, the counterargument to that is that they being searched because they are foreigners entering the US and that their particular race and presumed religious ideologies have nothing to do with their examination. In fact, as we later learn, the family is actually Christian. Not Muslim. In the beginning of the film, when the mother and son are finally settled into the home of their family, they must immediately deal with money problems. Unbeknownst to him, Fadi allowed the airport security to take away a tin of cookies containing $2,500 dollars, all the money his mother had. Fortunately, her brother, had given Fadi $200 dollars, so they at least had some money with them. Also, Fadi and Muna deal with American culture. Another family member takes stock of Fadi’s clothes and notes that he wears particular clothing, he will be considered “F.O.B.” or “Fresh Off the Boat”, meaning it will become immediately obvious that he is an immigrant because of his older attire. Quickly, Muna and Fadi attempt to ameliorate their attire. Also, Muna experiences feelings of discomfort with her body type. Fadi deals with being a new school and the education system of the US. Also, Fadi is bullied by members of his class, who are not accepting of him because of his Middle Eastern heritage. Also, it is noted that these boys have family members in the military who are in Iraq. During the setting of this movie, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has just begun. The family also deals with discrimination in finding jobs because Muna’s ethnicity, even though she is not Muslim. She is well educated with 10 years of work experience in a bank but she is forced to take a job at a White Castle restaurant. This is a point of humiliation for her, being both a proud immigrant and an educated woman. Also, Muna and Fadi deal with language barriers as they navigate American culture. Colloquialisms are difficult for them to understand. Also, Fadi tries smoking “Mary Jane” and gets into a fight with a classmate over causing his mother’s slip and fall at work and is later arrested, briefly detained and unrealistically released after some bargaining with a Jewish principal who befriends them despite the “serious allegations” against him. Muna also gets suckered into trying raise money for herself with one of America’s many weight loss scam products, “HerbalLose”. Not only is Muna dealing with being an immigrant, she is also dealing with being a divorcee. At the end of the novel, it is clear that Muna and the Jewish principal may have chemistry between the two of them. As Muna notes “We are a minority there (Christians) and a minority here (Middle Easterners).”

This movie is far from being the best movie to handle such an intense and thick debate but it works because it’s easy to follow and sends to message to audience. It does however reinforce and create new stereotypes as it crushes others. For instance, the whites in the film are racist. Members of the military (or at least their family members) have problems with Muslims, Middle Easterners and others not like them and they are so ignorant they cannot even spell names of terrorist organizations correctly. Also, the black boy who is in a relationship with Fadi’s outspoken female cousin, dresses in “ghetto” or “gangsta” clothing, smokes weed, listens to rap, and skips school and seems generally disinterested in school. This movie also has a nice, clean and “happy” ending with a Jewish man and a Middle Eastern family coming together and having dinner together. While not entirely unrealistic, it was certainly corny. The same is true with the husband’s medical practice failing because of uncomfortable patients changing to practices without Middle Eastern doctors. Also, Muna decides that she does not need to diet and is happy with her body. Again, while not unrealistic, that conclusion is much to neat and sudden for film, where even the pre-America scenes showed Muna unhappy with her body type and yet suddenly, in the last minutes of the film she expresses a love of her body.

Malaysia’s anti-gay camp violates law, says minister

This article from the BBC details a the Malaysian Women’s Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s response to a camp that claims to “un-gay” young Muslim boys.  She maintains that characterizing these supposedly effeminate teenage boys as gay or transsexual, and then attempting to “correct” their behavior will be detrimental to their mental and emotional health.

Though this is the first time I’ve heard about any Muslim attempts at “curing” perceived homosexuality, it is definitely not the first of its kind, as we have such camps and programs here in the United States, and unfortunately they also exist in Europe (and I’m sure the rest of the world as well).

Contraceptive Use Among Religious Women

This fascinating little article addresses a new study published by the Guttmacher Institute on contraceptive use amongst religious women.  The Guttmacher study found that there is little to no difference among contraceptive practices between religious and non-religious women.  The article suggests that the results from this study will have implications in United States health care  policy, but do you think that this new data will have any repercussions within our government, especially with regard to our healthcare and insurance?  Though I find the results of the Guttmacher study fascinating, I remain skeptical when it comes to actual positive governmental or social change for women’s sexual and overall physical/mental well-being.


Same Sex Marriage Protests in Australia

During the Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras, the majority of the floats protested with signs demanding for same sex marriages to be legalized.  Religious leaders have been against same sex marriages because marriage is a sacred union between a male and a female in the Bible.  Politics in Australia are traditionally conservative, so there is not a lot of support for same sex marriages.  The people who are for same sex marriage are saying that the existing law that makes same sex marriages illegal paints homosexuals are being inferior to heterosexuals.

Ronnie Miller

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