Interesting articles on issues ranging from a small town fighting for asylum seekers to stay, to Cambridge Analytica.
To the Editor:
Re “Will the Left Survive Millennials?,” by Lionel Shriver (Op-Ed, Sept. 23):
My initial response to Ms. Shriver’s keynote address at the Brisbane Writers Festival last month — walking out and writing about why — seemed to be largely misunderstood. Many took the reaction to be a call for censorship and responded with fury. They took as a given the right to say and write what they want, without critique, consequence or interrogation of intent.
The debate is not about censorship: People can write in the voices they please. The real question is whether they should. It is about the structures that define the world in which we live and work.
Fiction does not exist in a vacuum: It becomes people’s realities, because so often the only exposure we have to those with very different lived experiences to our own is through stories. But this discussion is larger than the world of fiction.
Ms. Shriver claimed that those who now fight for equality have become the oppressor. Her words betrayed a disappointment that the times are changing, and lamented that people are so terrified of being caught saying the wrong thing that they instead choose not to say anything at all.
This must be the same censorship that sees her books published, her keynote addresses delivered and her Op-Ed article published in The New York Times. Her perspective betrayed a deep fragility, born out of the fear of change. To those with privilege, equality may feel like oppression. But equality need not be a zero-sum game. Framing it so seeks to divide and ultimately to halt progress.
Yes, the times are changing. Millennials, like me, are agitating for us all to be better, and that should come with the acceptance that nobody is beyond reproach. Difficult conversations will make us all uncomfortable. Good. That discomfort is how we improve, how we render the best characters, best stories, how we create the most equitable societies.
So rather than making broad, sweeping generational assessments, how do we move forward? We can start with intent. Is the intent to preserve the status quo, or to demand more?
Change. We talk a lot about it but how often does it truly happen in the way we want it to? There are all sorts of studies, speeches and books dedicated to the concept and yet, it sometimes seems nebulous.
One of the really interesting questions that I often hear - and ask myself - is whether people can ever truly change.
Can someone who has committed a grievous crime be truly rehabilitated? Can someone who has traditionally been socially conservative become extremely liberal, and/or vice versa? Can someone who hates sport turn into an ironwoman/man?
As I was pondering this very question on my last flight, I came across this podcast... Invisibilia's study on personalities.
I highly recommend you listen to it, and then have a think about what I drew as the conclusion. It's all in our mind...
...and I think this book is now on my reading list.
A few things have been going on so I thought I'd share a few links, thoughts and announcements...
1. I wrote this piece after attending an Iftar with the Prime Minister of Australia, the first Iftar held by a sitting PM in the history of the nation. It was also in response to some pretty vicious reporting following the event... check it out here!
The fallout has been pretty rough, and has definitely provided lots of food for thought. I'm still ruminating but hope to share some reflections soon. Stay tuned inshallah.
2. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the lovely Meri Fatin for Cover to Cover WA talking about 'Yassmin's Story' and the process of writing a book. It was broadcast on Westlink TV a little over a week ago. Check out the video below!
3. I started a new Instagram! It's very self indulgent...
@HijabKween is where I'm sharing my hijab/turban styles, fashion influences and bits and pieces of inspiration that I collect on my travels. Hit a sista up!
4. Junkee let me reminisce about the last year. Subhanallah, it has been a full year, Alhamdulilah! Check it out here...but more importantly - if you'd like a nomination for Junket let me know - and nominate someone you think is cool for Aus or Young Aussie of the year! It's how we recognise those changemakers around us! <3
5. Amaliah are doing this really awesome thing where their readers 'takeover' their Snapchat for a day and show what Ramadan looks like in their world! Follow the account below...I'll be doing a Ramadan Takeover on the 29th of June inshallah! Watch out for it!
7. I'll be cruising around Switzerland, The Netherlands, Berlin and Uganda over the next month inshallah. Follow my travels on @yassmin_a (twitter, snapchat and insta), but if you're in these areas and you'd like to catch up and say hello, holla @ me! Email firstname.lastname@example.org - I'd love to meet you inshallah, and bonus points if you have a copy of the book for me to sign ;)
8. Last note... this is what I wrote on my FB wall today. Food for thought.
Hello there! Well it has been a while. I read once it was bad form to apologise for not having posted for some time, but I think in this case I feel like some sort of acknowledgment of my absence is warranted.
It has been a 'busy' few months, although I do dislike using the word 'busy'. Busy doesn't tell us very much, does it? It is like 'fine'; an empty word that describes the status quo and adds no real value to a sentence. It is there as a social nicety, which is something I suppose. 'What has been keeping you busy?' has been my go-to question of late, rather than 'what do you do?'. It makes for a more interesting conversation.
Occasionally, I include a twist and amend it with 'what has been keeping you busy mentally?'
In my case, it has been a couple of months of growing up. Mentally, I have been devoting a lot of time to issues around gender, access to opportunity and diversity across decision making places. I've also been thinking a lot about unconscious bias, how that plays a role in our society and how we can move past it...
Big issues, big questions. Too much for one blog post perhaps.
So instead, let me pepper you with some links to say hello again, and hopefully the next update will not be so far away.
I was recently alerted to this wonderful website: 'Into the Middle of Things', where Australians from around the country are interviewed about their life. The first one I saw was below and it is a beautiful few minutes with Abe, a Sudanese-Brisbane lad:
Born in a Sudanese jail in the midst of a civil war, Abe escaped a possible future as a child soldier and managed to make it to Australia as a refugee with his seven brothers and sisters. The secret emotional and mental toll of this is still catching up with him today.
"I get asked a lot by reporters and tweeters why I am so invested in 'diversity' on television," Rhimes said, according to Medium's text of her speech. "'Why is it so important to have diversity on TV?' they say. I really hate the word 'diversity.' It suggests something other. ... As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV."
Rhimes offered an alternative to the term "diversity," saying she'd rather describe what she's doing as "normalizing."
"I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50% of the population. Which means it ain't out of the ordinary. I am making the world of television look normal," she said.
Did n bit of a run down on various topics with the Triple J Hack crew for the Friday night Shake Up. What are your thoughts on some of these issues? Listen to the podcast here. Also did some radio in Arabic! Check it by clicking here.
Loving this insta: Did I ever tell you I really used to love drawing cartoons?
A photo posted by babsdraws (@babsdraws) on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:06pm PST
So anyway, what has been keeping YOU busy mentally?
Quick update: I'll be in Sydney this weekend! There are a couple of cool things happening: for one, Youth Without Borders Sydney is catching up (click HERE for details). I'll also be taking part in the 3things event through the Changemakers Festival which should be quite awesome - come along on Sunday morning if you're free (details HERE).
I've also been honoured to be highlighted as part of birdee's Changemakers - the guys and gals are too kind!
Don't forget to like / contribute to the campaign: Racism, Hatred, Bigotry: #NotInMyName
A couple of things to keep you busy on a Saturday morning:
I really enjoy good graffiti and have begun using Instagram to record some of what I see around the world. Tag me if you find some #graf you've enjoyed...
#Perth #graf #tagsandthrow #streetart #perthgraf #graffiti
There is a lot of interesting stuff on the internet. Here are a few of the articles that caught my eye this week...
1. A completely different perspective to one that is usually told: The niqab makes me feel liberated, and no law will stop me from wearing it
"I’ve always been the sort of person who loved to experiment, but I never expected that wearing the niqab would be something I’d try."
"In his book A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the emergence of Islamism, Dr S. Sayyid describes five arguments that explain the spread of what is commonly called Islamic fundamentalism, Islamism or militant Islamism."
But Alberici’s own responses to Doureihi’s questions reinforced Doureihi’s claims that some kind of underlying narrative was at play. She was becoming flustered by a phenomenon — an interviewee answering her question in a manner he wished — that she should be well used to. Heck, politicians do this all the time. HT is a political party. Doureihi is a Muslim politician wannabe.
This is SO good. Read it.
Channel Ten's new show. What do you think?
Oh and in case you missed it, have a listen to Ian Hanke, Jane Gilmore and I on Outsiders for Radio National with Jonathan Green. On the Sunday morning show we are talking the Lateline Interview (Emma-Wassim) and the current state of play in Australia...
It has been a week full of intensity, as per usual. It seems like the news has become a little like that, or perhaps it is what we choose to consume... Here are a five videos that popped up on my radar this week that are definitely worth your time.
1. Jon Oliver on Drones.
This guy is a gift. Takes issues once a week, tears it apart in 15 minutes or so. Sometimes, he can say things that others have been saying for ages but because of who he is, it is better received. Yes, that may be frustrating, but who said life was fair? Either way, his stuff is worth watching, and this week just highlights how ridiculous and insane the United State's Drone policy (or lack thereof) is.
2. Reza Aslan destroying CNN
Skip the first part of the video and wait until you get to the part where Reza Aslan starts talking. This guy is a religious scholar and academic. He knows his stuff, and the way that he clearly articulates things many Muslims yell at the TV while watching (or avoiding) CNN is brilliant.
3. Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!
A lesson that my father taught me over and over. Why projects keep failing in 'Africa'.
4.Kcee – Ogaranya ft. Davido (aka some light Afrobeats)
It can't be a Yassmin video wrap up without some Afrobeats... Let's have something light to finish off why don't we?
It's an absolute honour, and an interesting branch into a world I had never really considered myself a part of before: Business.
Check out the write up here. While you're there, read up on the other leaders! Everyone is doing something absolutely amazing and inspiring...
[While I'm here, shout out to my folks and the mentors who have helped me along the way! Honestly if it wasn't for their encouragement and support, I wouldn't be at full, I'd be at no throttle at all].
Still in her early 20s, Abdel-Magied says the best advice she’s been given is to be adaptable, and to use the leverage you have. A young Muslim girl interested in working in the community and with an engineering background is an unusual combination, she admits, but it means people listen.
“I’ve always looked at the opportunities that have come my way and had a goal – but don’t let that blind you to other avenues. The job that I’m in now, it was almost a whim that led me to apply to work on a rig and led me onto a new path. And you need to ask all the silly questions when you are in the early part of your career before you are seen as ‘the expert’.’’
A quick service announcement...
Listening to an Economist Podcast the other day, I was disturbed to find myself vehemently disagreeing with a few facts reported. The way they were presented I felt distorted and misrepresented parts of the situation in Iraq. It was a reminder that no news is perfect! Therefore, I set about ensuring my sources were diversified enough to help me find some semblance of truth within it all...
Here are some suggestions for good (alternative) places to go for news and opinion on the Middle East (in English):
Need I say any more?
A trusted news source, although some say it has started showing signs of taking sides since the Egyptian revolution. Nonetheless, still a solid place to go for news and opinion.
Dad's second favourite channel, Saudi owned and Dubai based, this is another good source of news straight of the horse's mouth.
So fresh you can smell the grass...
A podcast I found by absolute accident that does a good daily show. A little light on detail sometimes but they bring good guests in for discussion, and it usually provides a good overview of current global events
Juan Cole is an American Professor (gasp!) but his blog is often thought out and not at all crazy-right-wing. I find his analysis always rings true and is often fact checked beyond what mainstream media will offer
More newspaper than news source, this is a mix mash of English and Arabic news, analysis and investigation. I don't always read it all but find it does set the scene and provide background information you may not find elsewhere.
That's where I find my non BBC/Economist/Age/Australian/AFR/Crikey news, where do you get yours?
Hey hey hey! How are we all this Easter long weekend? I am cooped up in bed with a throat tickle and cold, thinking this is my body's way of forcing me to have some time off. Fair enough, but that isn't going to stop me from furiously following the F1 and my lads Liverpool this weekend! An awesome week of emails, study and sport. #Goodtimes...
Onto more formal matters...
I've been fortunate to be invited to be a part of a new initiative named 'My Agenda' that has been launched recently. I have a couple of months to play around with it and it looks interesting so far...
'My Agenda' is like a LinkedIn for women with a bit more support. It "enables you to connect with Australia’s best professional coaches through discussions and regular events."
I've been encouraged to jump in, ask questions and register for events.
Seems like an awesome way to meet strong women and make some new friends. Check it out here and let me know what you think?