Brown & Muslim-looking in Sicario 2

What lines do PoC get to say in media? It’s not just how many, but how we are framed. If there is already under-inclusion of PoC and if, in privileged white narratives we only function as comic idiots, assholes, servants or, as in the opening of Deadpool 2, faceless criminal disposable Orientals to hack to pieces, or, people who eat smelly food, or those out to destroy your way of life…

Watching Sicario 2 last night, I was really affected by the opening lines. Getting a brown man character to say two common, everyday phrases: “God willing” (Alhamdulilah) and “God is great!” (Allahu akbar – everyday usage of) the moment before self-detonating and killing lots of innocent law enforcement types is problematic. Shortly after, we see another set of brown men killing, in particular, a blonde woman and a small child, in cold blood, via similar self-explosions.

If, every time I said, “OMG!” or “Wow!” you think I might blow you up, you adjust where you sit in relation to me, you look at me with fear, you take me aside in a travel hub, …

Privilege. It doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard by it does mean that others never get anywhere near where you are despite working three times as hard.

Why do I even take time out of my day to write this?

“Mohamed Andeel, an Egyptian cartoonist and writer, wonders if it is worth trying to teach non-Muslims the real meaning of Allahu akbar.

“If you tell people not to be afraid of something,” he said, “they will basically learn to be afraid of something else.”” – New York Times

In Sicario 2, there is no further reference to brown Muslims or Islam, apart from a scene about terrorism and how drug cartels are terrorists. And how suicide bombers – brown men – can come from New Jersey.

Oy vey!

I’m currently slightly thinking about a role which makes me think about the lump that is “Chinese people” and how we eat strange, smelly food. At the gym recently, staff at the desk were talking about smells – “It stinks! Ugh, Chinese” – then looked at me in alarm pointing across the pavement and saying, “There’s a Chinese restaurant right there!”

It’s not you, it’s not you.

It’s not you, is it?

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