Author Archive

A Truth and a Lie: How Do I Approach Pictures?

October 1, 2015

Hannah and her Moroccan Secret Garden

Here we all are, a group of white American girls with cameras hoisted to our faces trying to snatch one picture—just one—where the baby camels’ heads are actually facing forward. This could have surmised the whole month spent trekking down the coast of Morocco. Alas, I underwent a bit of a wake-up call.

What exactly gives rise to that deep-seated urge to snap a picture? How do I, a westernized American choosing to travel outside my normative lens, decide on what images to freeze in time and take back home with me? For some, the camera is an extended finger, excitedly pointing out stereotyped exotic splendors whose foreign appeal is ironically a product of expectation. But after spending time in Meknes and desperately trying to learn Darija, it became painstakingly apparent that the camera is a dangerous force and I am called as a traveler in an unfamiliar land to wield it with discernment. I cannot merely isolate and capture elements I scarcely understand. A photo is paradoxically a truth and a lie – a single angle compels the viewer’s attention to submit to a premeditated focalization. One photo denies you the comfort of your peripheral judgment. You see what the photographer has allowed you to see and not a fraction of a second more. As the photographer, I must be weary of what I am conveying to others.

I transgress and begin at the end of my trip—the Prado in Madrid, one of the most famous museums in the world and home to the notorious el Greco, Goya, and Velasquez. A museum guide left me with a single artistic word: escorzo. The meaning of the word evades a precise English translation. Rather, it is something made corporeal in the quivering el Greco figures; it is there in muscles like vapor, like shadows of water intermittently surfacing the canvas and distending outward from some holy atmosphere in contours that writhe and yield to some divine cause. The word is also applicable to Velasquez and Goya—in figures that claim their own space, volume, and depth by simultaneously conveying to the viewer a sense of the weighty physical world alongside an elusive fiction or something that defies reality. A truth and a lie. A picture that feels real, and yet reveals an illusion masterfully embedded in paint and artistic craftsmanship.

A picture is a choice – a statement made by the artist that has incredible influence over the very paradigm of the viewer’s personal world. A picture can shatter assumptions, fortify stereotypes, or draw conclusions far beyond a viewer’s expectations. With a single shift in focus, a picture can instigate revolutions of thought and cross boundaries without ever needing to take a single step.

I don’t claim much with my own photos, but there are a few conscious efforts that carry throughout. The first thing to know about me is I continue to grapple with capturing other people. I resonate with the old Native American fear of white men’s camera devices. With the rise of portraiture in the late 1800s, the Native Americans fervently believed that pictures taken of an individual removed a piece of the subject’s soul. Walking down the narrow allies of Tangier, I recognize my privilege; I am a stranger privy to strange sights, traversing the private hallways and rooms inside someone else’s house. I walk down narrow allies; I squeeze past women pouring buckets of soapy water down a hill, hanging laundry. Kids play with what look like spools of thread, leaping over napping cats and weaving around me like water around a stone in a stream. There are saturated Cerulean-blue-and-white-walled backstreets, barber shops situated on tight corners, pockets of Qur’anic schools, the smell of hashish, a hundred doorways with every turn and there, sitting in a doorway, is an old woman watching me watch her in unabashed curiosity. Though there is beauty, I understand little of my surroundings. How can I collect the faces that are intrinsically tied to the in and out movements of a place I cannot know? How can I begin to speak to you, dear reader, about the woman I saw sitting in the doorway watching me wade through her front step space?

 

Fig on Moroccan FarmI didn’t, to say the least, take many pictures of other people. Rather, I tried to sketch them in my mind’s eye after engaging in some form of conversation. Walking down those streets in Tangier, I could not in a single snapshot tell you that the difference between the woman in the doorway and me only existed because there was first an undeniable sameness in the inquisitive dialogue our eyes engaged in for a moment. There was something moving in the way I watched her and she watched me. There was something real, and something not unlike a fiction that imaginatively tried to account for lack of context and understanding. I understand how dangerous it would have been for me to have taken her image in that moment.

What pictures I do possess from my time in Morocco are grounded in an acute sensual realism or else serve as an anomaly to cultural presumptions. Some of the pictures are too fleeting to be objectified, honing in on a specific texture, taste, smell, or aesthetic that resists categorization. What exactly am I looking at? A viewer may ask of my pictures. I prefer an open dialogue to static images. I like my art to remain incomplete—it begs a question.

 

Yellow Wall of Mosque

Eye of the Camel Tile Mosque Morocco Pic

Pictures have become great conversational starting points, small enough to amass an interest in the finite moments of time in order to point to the greater more profound experiences surrounding their context. Nowhere else can these instances I’ve captured be uprooted and repositioned in a different story for they are so utterly mine in the subtle idiosyncrasies. Pictures can only carry a viewer so far, and where they are limited, I must rely on the collection of stories that burn on their own independent accord and carry a sense of mystery more human and complete than any one image.

Advertisements

The Road Less Traveled By

September 19, 2015

“It tasted good. It was actually unfortunate that a perfectly good slurpy had gone to waste.” Suoad, a twenty-year-old Moroccan student from Meknes, laughed about her two-year experience at UTSA in the States, casually flipping her waist long black mermaid hair into a high ponytail. She told me about how an ignorant white male peer had come up to her on the Texan campus and poured a full cup of sticky cherry flavored slurpy onto her head in response to her being Muslim. She shrugged her shoulders unapologetically; “I confronted him about it later.” She had run after the boy and inquired about his unaccounted for actions, as she had never before seen him on the premises of the university. The boy, she said, did not understand my faith or me. I confronted him and bore my humanity to him in careful, measured words. I did not let anger cloud an opportunity for me to help him overcome his objectified interpretation of my identity. And then what? I felt embarrassment for my nation and those instances of naiveté, and I began apologizing profusely on the behalf of those stuck in the cultural paradigm of the revered hegemonic west. Suoad shook her head vehemently and brushed off my indirect attempt at reconciliation and laughed, “La, la, la. You see, after we talked, he looked me in the eye and apologized.”image1

Later Suoad invited me into her Moroccan abode and I nestled myself between pillows on the long couch that wrapped around the living room in a continuous serpentine manner, curving around the corners of the walls like arms extended to anybody who enters the house through the foyer. Her mother had stayed home from work to cook us couscous with lamb, filling a dish reserved for holidays that filled up more than half the table. I glanced around for a plate I could serve myself with, then quickly amended my attempts at enacting the comfortable individual manner of eating I was used to at home. Everyone had picked up a spoon and started digging into the heaping communal plate of food reflexively, sighing around mouthfuls of zucchini, potato, carrot, and cabbage. I followed suit and scooped up a piping hot mouthful and endured the burn of the steam in absolute relish as I moved the saturated spices that had soaked into the individual grains of couscous around with my tongue. “Haadi zien bzzaf! Shukran!” I discreetly had propped my notebook under the table and stumbled over what little Darijan I had written down hoping the sentence made syntactic sense. “Zuina?” I gestured uncertainly to the entire presentation of the food with all its colors and organically grown vegetables and fruits on display. Suoad’s mother laughed and nodded at my fragmented attempt to vocalize my overwhelming gratitude. She spoke and Suoad translated, “You are always welcome here in my home.”

What is reconciliation? I ask myself. More than the stark dichotomy between Eastern and Western cultures is the generalizations imposed on the “other” that is written on the walls of our immediate paradigm. I knew the boy that tried to shame Suoad too well, and yet there is something astounding when people choose to cross transnational lines and seek out the alternative stories and humanity of a single individual whom we label as ‘foreign.’ Sitting down at a table so far away from my home back in Washington and immediately made to feel as an adopted sister and daughter has flooded me with a humility so vast and all-encompassing as to bring kings to their knees. I cannot help but be stripped of all the premonitions I might have held about Islam and Eastern culture and exist naked and overwhelmed by the encounter that demands my undivided emotional presence. I can no longer turn away for fear of discomfort or the power to destabilize the core of my identity for I was never created to remain static. My encounter with Suoad and her family ushered in the epiphany that I alone do not possess God or truth. The unadulterated love that had been showered upon me, in juxtaposition with the story Suoad dictated to me, has invigorated my desire to be ceaseless in the endless pursuit of understanding other peoples to substitute judgment. Rather, I opt to take the road less traveled by and give willingly the fruits of my labor to those who remain trapped within their native cultures in the hope that they too might join me on this mind-rending journey.

More Hope, Less Pity

September 19, 2015

 

tumblr_mpuuz0RLWj1qegpc2o1_1280She wore a long floral dress the color of forget-me-nots against deep sienna skin. In the midst of a tempest where waves upon waves of over 194 boys crashed on the shores of my own personal space, she stood out as the slender shade of periwinkle stranded on her own island in the middle of the orphanage’s box-like courtyard. I began to part the waters, children who have not been touched for the greater portion of their fifteen years of life falling from my body like raindrops as they desperately offered up their names, inscribing them on crumpled slips of paper they tried to push into my skin in the wild hope that the memory of their existence would permanently graft itself on the surface of my heart.

This was my experience visiting a Moroccan orphanage in Meknes.

Wading to the center with my growing fan base, I finally reached her.

“Ana smeetik Hannah.” I pointed to myself enthusiastically to compromise my poor pronunciation of the only sure statement I had gotten down in Darija. Eyes the color of dark chocolate sparkled in eager understanding as her head nodded vigorously, hands articulating the significance of her identity as she enunciated phonetically “Besba.” It was the only exchange needed to win over her trust. She carried my name on her tongue like the greatest gift bestowed upon her and slipped her arm around my waist in easy friendship. She attempted to nestle her head in the crook of my neck despite the onslaught of boyish jibes and grubby fingers trying to renounce the bond already established. I embraced the rush of maternal protector for the moment, making sure to smile and continue to acknowledge the other faces competing for my attention. “She’s crazy” a boy said in accented English, elbowing Besba aside and raising the back of his hand as though to threaten slapping the girls cheek. Her hand shot to her face to counter the anticipated attack and she scowled in accustomed disdain as she walked a distance away. “Hey, uh-uh,” I retorted, waggling my index finger with all the authoritative adult disapproval I could muster. The culprit dashed off and I turned hastily to seek out the small fifteen-year-old girl only to find her a short distance away waiting for me. Time moved quickly and soon enough I was integrated into the hustle and bustle of the pack, kids weaving in and out of our small hair braiding party lead by Besba with soccer balls and hula hoops flying in every direction while older boys flaunted muscles, parading like peacocks along walls they would intermittently scale just to prove they could.

There was a visceral need felt in every fiber of these kids, an inherent hunger to be remembered that reverberated off the kinetic joy, screams, and laughter experienced throughout the vicinity. It gave them solidarity despite the occasions of aggression and violence that grew in part out of the sadness behind their eyes. A boy caught a wisp of my hair that had blown out of my fishtailed ginger hair and placed it gently behind my ear. I watched as his face held only an innocent nostalgic fascination that drove him to make the reflexive shy caress. So many were here and excited to see me, to touch me, hug me, kiss me on the cheeks. In the moment, it occurred to me that pity was not good enough an emotion to leave them with. Pity was nothing but denying them a right to achieve impossible things by their own merit. It was rejecting their individuality. I caught the guilt building up within that was demanding me to answer: how ethical is it to enter a space like this and then leave? How could I justify only two hours? I wasn’t the white savior. I wasn’t here to take any of them away. And yet there has to be something good in the swift relationships built in the time we were given. There has to be something in choosing to come in spite of time constraints, in spite of the pangs of shame, or else why would anyone visit to begin with? Rebuking the myths of poverty, I admit that yes, there is part of the experience that was concerned with feeling bad. And yet, the passion, the books and notebooks propped on laps in studious ambition, the funds put into the institution that permits the majority to attend private school, and the occasional visits by strangers who choose to volunteer to impart the love of families they may not have been able to have, fights to contradict the notion that these kids are somehow tainted and unable to escape a life of disadvantage.

image1I openly welcome the rush of humility gained from this encounter, mandating an emotional presence that is both exhausting to endure while seeking to edify and invoke a deep-set compassion at the core of me. However, at the same time, I will never allow myself to be the object of every learning experience or relationship I engage with. There is so much more to the world than my own limited perceptions and so I continue to think on Besba and the kids in Morocco whose futures are overly ripe with potential and hope.

I Bathe Myself and Other Women Bathe Me

September 16, 2015

We are more cultured than Aphrodites; African Venuses scooping up water like handfuls of glittering sequins with our shiny plastic shells.  We each pour water down our backs like mermaids sitting on tiled floors before our own personal hot springs tapped in tiny facets along the walls.  I ladle myself hefty handfuls of Rhassoul, rubbing its black consistency methodically into every orifice, every corner of skin, until I have planted the fragrance of olive deep into my pores.  The floor of the hammam radiates heat and shoots up its soothing sultriness into the soles of our feminine feet.  It diffuses upwards until every muscle forgets the meaning of apprehension. As the osmotic vapor dissolves our worldly images, our divinely endowed glow begins to dim; the water continues to ebb and erode the stone of our being into perfectly articulated edifices of masterpiece.  We internalize the inherited light of the angels embedded in the gait of our social demeanor.  It is our own luminescence that we keep for ourselves—the one that heats the cockles of our bellies deep in the recesses of our womanhood.  I bathe myself and other women bathe me.  tumblr_nn66lrteF01qas1mto7_1280I rebuke the solitary West that enslaves women in time and I bathe myself and other women bathe me.  Other women, who do not gnash their jealous teeth at my wounds, scrub the grit and salt from my flesh.  Other women, who occupy the same space, bare their naked bodies to each other and return to themselves.  Yes, us as women, us as the other and collective women, feel our breasts and our collarbones, rub elbows, knees, armpits, and continue along the exposed curves of spines with unguarded hands. We women climb out of our societal coffins, discard the flowers of condolence that build up on the doorsteps of our identity, rebuke the fetishized fantasies of men, and circulate the same air like the biggest shared secret in the universe.  We, the geishas, the queens, the empresses and sultanas of the heavens; we the adventurers and crossers of national boundaries who weep because we have reasoned and grappled with feeling; who perform acts of love in perfect symmetry; who stand defiantly with contrapposto swings to our hips—we are ones who bathe each other and celebrate the blessing of our births. And it is here, the hammam, that is the place of our homecoming.  We, us, the other women, subversive vessels of mysterious power, together, exist in the liberation of our bathing.

A Herald Bearing the Hope of Transnationalism

September 11, 2015

alhambra3_2168406bI am led beyond the point of echoing tourist fingers, gaping awestruck at the finite honeycomb fixtures marking the doorway to celestial cavities that place God on the minds of even the most devout agnostic. Counter-thrusting arcades, columns arcing their long Moorish necks in the delicate shape of a horseshoe, characterize the spacious interiors of the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia. It is nothing if not the prized token of the cultural mélange that defines the controversial history of Spain with its Muslim, Jewish, and Christian roots that are so deeply intertwined in a soil soaked in blood and sunshine. If I can even begin to attempt to describe this massive architectural entity, I must liken it to some monolithic stone fashioned from organic matter where geometry presides in the impossible forms of stalactites and mathematically perfect patterns making indelible marks on the memory of its long enduring presence. As I walked through it’s many chambers, I first embodied the mind of the powerful Sultana. I envisioned myself walking down the lavishly decorated corridors with my lady servants and meditating in my own private inner courtyard garden, natural perfumes of jasmine, violet, lavender, myrtle, and mint diffusing through the air while I knelt in peaceful contemplation by the long rectangular reflecting pool. And then there was the throne room. Levitated circles of heaven are ensnared in the ceiling, the architects imprisoning the potential kinetic energy of the universe that to this day swirls in eddies like celestial oceans teeming behind walls that quiver in ecstatic motion. I was speechless. And yet, I could see the age behind its timelessness; the stone itself felt cold to the touch, like bone marrow when the color of its life giving blood has been sucked dry, leaving faint scars of henna red, indigo, saffron yellows, and the lush emerald of children’s fairytales.Alhambra Arc

The original structure was built around the 12th century by the emirs and later restored by Yusuf I and Muhammad V during the 14th century. However, in 1492, the Reyes Católicos conquered Granada and subsequently imposed their Catholic influence over the region. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, later added his own palace to the original Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications in 1527, leaving tiny remnants of a Christianized gentrification like coats of arms engraved amid the abstract Muslim designs. After that, the majesty of the old Sultans was largely forgotten. As the years passed, squatters occasionally used the exhausted and partially demolished skeleton for shelter until its rediscovery in the 19th century. By then, though, the space had fallen into a devastating state of disrepair.

Placing my hands against a pillar, I have felt the energy and history of this colossal space of antiquity. I feel compelled to claim it as distinctly female given its capacity to encompass the symbolism implicit in the Islamic veil that defends most ardently the abundant wealth of its inner beauty. If you observe closely you will notice that she breathes out in sighs, knowing full well her body is that of mummification. Above all I have felt the pain in her preserved existence that is now only memory – centuries of transnational ingestion, strife, and transition. And yet, there is something else. Despite a history of lesions violently grafted inside her womb, she still stands as one of the greatest emblems and present defenders of a Muslim culture that is now welcomed back to Spain after centuries of turmoil following the horror that was the Spanish inquisition. Alhambra, though existing in a ghostly state, asserts herself still as a modern day herald bearing the transnational hope for a world without barricades and animosity toward any one culture, ethnicity, or faith group.

The Harem in Eastern and Western Perceptions

September 1, 2015

The beauty ideal in Western culture: a woman with a paralyzed brain.

Is this true? Is a women’s sexual appeal really only restricted to her physicality?

It shocked me to learn that Kant, one of the most prevalent philosophers in the West, testified in his writing that femininity is the beautiful and masculinity is the sublime, ultimately distinguishing the sexes by designating one as the exclusive realm of emotion and the other reason. Building from this long held belief, the Western harem, as Moroccan writer Fatema Mernissi coins it, is definitely a fantasy institution restricted entirely to “body politics” (52). There exists a harem today in the minds of western men that fetishizes the ultimate dream: “an orgiastic feast where men benefit from a true miracle: receiving sexual pleasure without resistance or trouble from the women they had reduced to slaves” (14). Western media has often portrayed eastern cultures as radically anti-feminist. Rather, it is Western culture that is missing the inherent fear Muslim women instill in Muslim men – women who are deemed men’s equal in the eyes of God and the Koran. Where the Western harem of the mind idolizes silent women who are overly sexualized and subservient to their master, the Eastern harem of old ironically dignifies these slave women and restores to them their power and intelligence that is key to their survival. Rather, in regards to the story of Scheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights, “the Oriental Scheherazade is purely cerebral and that is the essence of her sexual attraction” (39). The Eastern harem fears their women who must educate themselves in order to earn favor with their masters and survive the unequal order of the autocratic harem establishment. In Scheherazade’s case, she employs language, the power of oral storytelling, in order to protect herself from her husband who becomes enraptured by her words. A stupid woman gets nowhere in the true harems of old, a message that is further supported by the tale of Tawaddud who invests entirely in her intellect in order to capture and keep up with her caliph who would have otherwise killed her. Women are dangerous, and Muslim men acknowledge this significant power they possess. Arabian Nights artwork16

Personally, I know that my Western programming has first introduced me to the type of harem that is “skin-deep, cosmetic and superficial” (74). I remember back in high school a group of Arabic girls who had wished to perform a belly-dance for an assembly meant to celebrate world cultures. They were turned down on the grounds of the dance being too sexualized. Mernissi contests this view by affirming that “In the Middle East and North Africa today, the belly-dance is seldom viewed, at least by women, as the monochromatic, physical agitation of the flesh, divorced from spirituality, that it is often portrayed as being in Hollywood films” (70). The Eastern harem does not glorify the flesh, which seems to be the predominant fiction of the West. Why are Western men, endowed with human rights and raised in a culture that upholds a democratic ideology, intrigued by a woman without brains? Mata_HariIt is clear that the East understands that sexual relations, specifically intercourse, are nothing if the partners are not equally yoked. By definition in Arabic, intercourse is described as kiasa, which literally means “to negotiate” (40). And in order to communicate and achieve orgasm, both parties must employ their minds. Ultimately, the Eastern harem, where it is an unfair and perverse system, operates on the assumption of the power and intelligence of women. Everything that is blown out of proportion by Hollywood such as belly-dancing and the Oriental dress/cosmetics is subservient to the ulterior motives of these women’s minds. In fact, they are employed with a much more educated intent, belly-dancing specifically engaging a spiritual dimension that is perceived today as an exercise in empowerment and self-enhancement (71).

To summarize, it is not a matter of beauty versus intellect, as it is in the Western harem; rather, intellect is the basis of both beauty and power – the key to a woman’s survival in the Eastern harem.

An Approach to Alternative Mapping

August 17, 2015

“The beauty of a landscape resides in its melancholy” (Orphan Pamuk)

morocco-fes-fes-el-bali-tanneryAs a Westerner about to travel to Morocco, I already anticipate that impressionable first intake of non-Western soil. I imagine disembarking the boat and being bombarded with all the colors, sights, sounds, and smells of a single first experience, eager to catalogue random tidbits of anything giving off a foreign vibe. But how can I cultivate a conscious resistance to generalization and stereotype prior to this introduction? How can I develop an alternative mapping, not limited to tourism? By educating oneself! Though that’s the simplified solution. More than following up with the news, more than charting boundaries based on political regimes or catering to any single idea of democracy in light of Arab Springs, look to see how people name themselves in creative forms in response to sites of trauma, of collective memory, of atrocity, resistance, and injustice – in effect, acknowledging the sacred spaces that define a community of people. The inherent difficulty behind this acknowledgment resides in the blind spots that arise from the hegemonic social paradigm promulgated by Western media. To name a few: there needs to be an active relinquishing of post 9/11 racism. In the context of our own sturdy wall separating church and state, we need to admit that we are nervous and dislike the idea of hybrid religious and political identities that in turn inhibit recognition of internal religious disputes. To continue, it is not the case that mass media has an exclusive globalizing effect and people need to accept the very prominent existence of Islamic feminism that deviates from the widely circulated image of the oppressed Muslim woman. And furthermore, we need to seriously relinquish the notion that the West has monopoly over an objective democratic recipe by which we measure the merit of external democratic pursuits (although it’s more like we don’t acknowledge other democratic efforts unless they are a direct offspring of our influence). As a traveling Westerner, I need to begin asking myself the question of “What groups are dismissed, labeled, or excluded by the Western press from this idea of democratic desire” (xix)? Upon entering a region, there needs to be a conscious effort to try to avoid the “dangerous fiction of a unified culture” while listening for the pluralistic voices in local protest that redefine democratic performance.  In regards to nations in mid democratic bloom, it helps to become consciously aware of these restrictions, biases, and generalizations characteristic of one’s own social paradigm as a means to better hear and become acquainted with the true authentic nature and hopes of another non-Western culture.

From a political state of melancholy, there stems social change and a need for creative emotional forums to reclaim identity and move toward communal healing. Segall’s Performing Democracy in Iraq and South Africa seeks to illuminate these “alternative spaces of communication and reception” (xvii). She adds three correctives: amid these creative spaces, there is a connected reimagining of gender locations, social contestation, and artistic revision. Flowers handed to guardsAs travelers, we need to attempt to see the beauty behind the overarching vision imagined by the people, the fodder for the community’s fight for justice and change. New cultural forms are emerging to lend all kinds of people voices and platforms to incite action, challenging previous gender roles and finding artistic outlets to encourage the impetus that is ushering in both political transformation and an excitement shared by communities over having so many creative venues to communicate through.  We need to ask ourselves what types of storylines do we dismiss as anomalies and which testimonies do we disregard on the grounds of not complying with the single stories Western media feed us?  Because those stories are very likely the ones we need to start paying attention to.

 

Transforming Perspective

May 28, 2015

I heard a story on SPU campus that shocked me: from what I remember, a female student who is Muslim had wanted to protest Ferguson in light of recent events, but chose to consult a teacher first to see if it was a safe decision. This woman had an acute fear of repudiation and even prosecution in light of a past experience she had in either a middle school or high school in Seattle with a bullying incident. Another boy at her school had been unrelentingly harassing her on the grounds of her Arabic ethnicity, telling her that she was related to Saddam Hussein and was by association a terrorist, to which, after much aggravation, she rightly responded to with a punch that alone challenges today’s gendered perceptions of the oppressed Muslim girl. The case was taken up to the principal’s office where it took an infuriating turn of events. Long story short, police showed up to thoroughly investigate whether the bully’s thoughtless and racist accusations in regards to the girl’s relationship with Hussein were true. This Seattle school took the bully’s word – the thoughtless jibes of a kid – over her, the real victim here. And apparently everyone overlooked the true nature of this occurrence as plain old cruel harassment that had no substantial grounds for threat. tumblr_nfbh4ml1Yi1sesaigo1_1280Post 9/11 the Western perspective of the Middle East is still severely marred by the single story characterized by ‘fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.’ However, there is hope for a transformed way of seeing. The impetus is located in the various creative forms of local revolt and protest against autocracy that is budding in Middle Eastern regions. As a case study, Morocco is a phenomenal example of the Arab Spring movement, from the fiery stories of Fadwa Laroui to the incredibly courageous film work of Nadir Bouhmouch to right now, where I’ve heard about Moroccan youth putting together a professionally crafted video of young Moroccan rappers declaring the utmost importance of voting and encouraging the next generation to actively take part in blossoming forms of democracy. We need to begin listening to these kinds of individuals who are fighting for their own rights and start to rectify our perceptions shaped largely by Western media that has chosen to designate narratives that never do justice to the full story. If anything, we need to bring attention to ongoing anti-Arab racism as well that seems to serve as this age’s current blind spot.