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It's no secret that Hollywood has a diversity and representation problem.

For years, Hollywood has produced television shows and movies that often portray Muslims, South Asians, and Middle Eastern people with harmful stereotypes.

According to Jack Shaheen, a writer focusing on Arab representation in cinema, Muslim and Arab characters are often confined to three archetypes. He called them "the three B's": bombers, billionaires, and belly dancers. And sometimes, in addition to swinging their hips as belly dancers, some of the women are depicted as living under oppression in black abayas and burqas.


It's quite easy to find shows that fit the bill. The grand majority of Muslim characters in "Homeland" are either suicide bombers or Arab billionaires. Even in beloved children's movies, like "Aladdin," the characters are based in a "faraway place / Where the caravan camels roam / Where they cut off your ear / If they don't like your face / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home!"

But it's time to change the outdated and redundant negative typecasting of Muslim and Middle Eastern characters.

A new test has been introduced to measure how Muslims and Arabs are portrayed in television and film.

The Riz Test is a concept formed by a small group of film buffs that were inspired by a speech that Riz Ahmed, known for "The Night Of," made to the U.K. Parliament about the Bechdel test and media representation.

"We're passionate film buffs but we're tired of the same old stereotypes and tropes being perpetuated in Films and TV shows," the group wrote in a tweet.

Like the Bechdel test, which measures how women are portrayed in fiction, The Riz Test has a quite simple criteria.

The Riz Test asks the viewer to consider five questions if their film or show includes one identifiable Muslim character:

  1. Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of Islamist terrorism?
  2. Presented as irrationally angry?
  3. Presented as superstitious, culturally backwards, or anti-modern?
  4. Presented as a threat to a Western way of life?
  5. If the character is male, is he presented as misogynistic? If female, is she presented as oppressed by her male counterparts?

There have been some great improvements in recent years. A few television shows have featured Muslim characters that don't fall into the traps of The Riz Test, such as "The Bold Type's" Adena El Amin character and "Queer Eye's" Tan France.

It's important now, more than ever, to include accurate representation and portrayal of Muslims and Arabs on the big screen.

Hollywood is often a reflection of the society that we live in, and sometimes, it serves as an introduction to the unknown.

In the United States in 2017, Muslims only made up 1.1% of the general population, and not a lot of Americans have ever befriended a Muslim in real life. This means that most of the understanding Americans have about Islam, Muslims, Arabs and their society often come from what they see on television, films, and the news cycle. And with 80% of the media coverage on Islam and Muslims being negative, it's no wonder there's still a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment and misunderstanding across the country.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

But accurate portrayals isn't just about improving the way Americans view Muslims; it's also about benefiting our society as a whole.

As Ahmed said in his Parliament speech, "If we fail to represent, I think we're in danger of losing out in three ways, the three E's: (1) We're going to lose people to extremism, (2) we're going to lose out on an expansive idea of who we are as individuals and as a community, and (3) we're going to really lose out on the economic benefits that proper representation can bring to our economy."

In other words, the time is now for Hollywood to generate diverse and accurate portrayals of Muslims and Arabs on the big screen.

You can watch Riz Ahmed's speech below:

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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