🚨 SPOILERS AHEAD 🚨
Having representation in media is great...when done correctly. But have y'all ever watched something that made you cringe because of how inaccurate it was?
For Muslims, this is wayyy too common. Here are some examples of how TV shows and movies missed the mark completely.
1. There's always a woman who takes off her hijab for ✨dramatic effect✨ or (usually) to seek validation from a boy. Let's start with Dr. Dahlia Qadri of Grey's Anatomy.
2. And there are characters like Nadia in Elite who removes her hijab and it's treated like she's finally feeling "free." And of course, there's Guzman who's just in awe.
3. Too often the way Muslims are shown praying looks...off. Let's take Marjan from 9-1-1: Lone Star as an example.
4. And when Nabil's former girlfriend *appears* while he's praying in Tiny Pretty Things.
Then it gets weird when his girlfriend, Cassie, appears out of nowhere telling him he's "finished."
And they just start dancing??
5. We also have to constantly sit through trauma porn. In the two-part Season 18 finale of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, we follow the investigation around a hate crime committed against a Syrian Muslim family.
6. Also, in the same Law & Order: SVU finale, one of the suspects is later held hostage by two men described as being Middle Eastern who wanted revenge for what happened to the Samras.
7. There's a moment in #RollUpToTheClubLike, an episode of Degrassi: Next Class, where Goldi Nahir has her hijab snatched off following a terrorist attack in Belgium.
They then yank her hijab off and push Winston aside when he tries to stop them.
8. And of course, what's Muslim representation without women wearing burqas, being saved from oppressive situations? Like these women in Iron Man 3 being rescued from a sweatshop in an unidentified Middle Eastern country.
9. And Abra (Abed Nadir's cousin) in Community, who literally has a full-blown argument with her uncle about jumping in a bouncy house.
10. And the kidnapped women in the scene where T'Challa comes to Nakia's aid in Marvel's Black Panther.
11. Also, the lack of Black Muslims in lead roles is glaring.
12. Or in the rare instances that they are in key roles, they're often behind bars. Like Alison Abdullah, the only Muslim character in Orange Is the New Black.
13. There's also Kareem Said in the HBO series Oz, who leads a group known as "The Muslims."
14. And Ali from South Central, who attempts to steer Bobby, a gang member, straight.
15. And if they're not in prison, they're treated like an afterthought. For example, you mean to tell me that Nabila in The Walking Dead is the only Black Muslim that survived the zombie apocalypse?
16. And to be fair, in Ramy there are prominent Black characters (playing Ramy's fiancée and her father), but in my opinion their stories weren't fleshed out well.
Is it too much to ask for representation that doesn't play into overplayed tropes or harmful stereotypes?
It doesn't take much to find Muslim writers, directors, producers, crew and actors to create authentic stories that don't leave us feeling misrepresented and misunderstood.
In the meantime, I'll be looking for representation that's done right and waiting for someone to hire me as a writer or consultant because I am TIRED.
Correction: Goldi Nahir in #7 was not approached by classmates, as was stated in an earlier version of this post.