Network Faces Backlash After Putting White Woman In ‘Brownface’ To Appear Muslim

Network Faces Backlash After Putting White Woman In 'Brownface' To Appear Muslim

A U.Ok. tv program’s try to make clear Islamophobia is proving arguable ― with some critics claiming that the display’s techniques quantity to “brownface.”

“My Week As A Muslim,” which aired on Channel 4 this Monday, follows the adventure of a white girl named Katie Freeman. As a part of a social experiment, Freeman is immersed right into a Pakistani Muslim circle of relatives in Manchester who lived only a few miles clear of her own residence. 

Whilst the aim was once to start out a dialog about Islamophobia, the documentary has been criticized for its strategies. In order to go “undercover” in her neighborhood, Freeman’s pores and skin was once darkened, and he or she was once given a prosthetic nostril, pretend enamel, and brown touch lenses. She additionally donned an extended, flowing gown and lined her head with a shawl. 

The racist origins of blackface, brownface, and different costumes stemming from cultural appropriation are well documented. The impulse to suppose some other ethnic workforce’s options frequently ends up in exaggerated, misguided, or even destructive stereotypes. 

On this case, the plain use of “brownface” had some critics appalled. 

Journalist Radhika Sanghani wrote in the Guardian that whilst highlighting the results of Islamophobia is a worthy purpose, appearing a white girl “browning up” with a bigger, wider nostril and faux enamel isn’t how you can do it. 

“As a substitute of perpetuating previous cliches and that specialize in bodily look, [the documentary] will have merely adopted a Muslim circle of relatives with cameras, listening to from the ladies themselves and looking at the on a regular basis racism they revel in,” Sanghani wrote. “Ladies of color are already under-represented within the media – why no longer give them a voice and listen to from them without delay?”

In a parody of the documentary, British-Iraqi freelance author Ruqaya Izzidien, flipped the jobs round ― imagining what it could be like if a Muslim went “undercover” as a white guy. 

“Channel four′s My Week as a Muslim was once a preposterous conception from the primary minute, offering a platform for racism, brownface, crude caricatures, ethnocentrism and normal all-round offence,” Izzidien wrote, summarizing her opinion of the display. “It was once constructed at the antiquated, imperialist idea that an individual of color’s phrase can’t be relied on; their reports and struggling don’t exist till they’re verified via a white particular person.”

The display’s manufacturer, Fozia Khan, defended the verdict in a Guardian op-ed, announcing that Freeman’s appearances have been modified to make her “appear and feel other, so she may move unrecognised in her fatherland, convincingly revel in what it’s love to be a Muslim girl, combine her into her host group and revel in it from inside of.”

″Folks have recommended that we will have used a distinct way – comparable to giving Muslim girls hidden cameras to turn their reports. This has been completed prior to, and we needed to take a look at one thing other,” Khan wrote. 

Khan wrote that once Freeman began the documentary, she had destructive evaluations about Muslims. She reportedly felt apprehensive about girls dressed in the niqab. At one level within the documentary, she says, “You spot them and also you suppose, are they going to blow one thing up?” However over the process the filming, as she has significant conversations and reports with Muslims, her evaluations start to alternate. 

Saima Alvi, the Muslim woman from Greater Manchester whose circle of relatives Freeman befriended, wrote about this modification in a blog for HuffPost. Alvi mentioned she was once to start with reluctant to take part within the documentary, however determined to move thru with it after being reassured that she would no longer be misrepresented. 

Watch a trailer for the display underneath: 

After the Manchester bombing, which came about simply at some point into filming the documentary, Freeman and Alvi watched the pictures from the assault on tv in combination. They have been each unsure about whether or not to proceed.

“Katie was once anxious that she would possibly turn into a goal dressed as a Muslim girl which was once the most important realisation. I defined that my apparel is a part of my id and I should raise on within the outdoor global sporting this worry,” Alvi wrote. “We each determined to proceed with the additional 5 days of filming.”

After the assault, Freeman reports what it was once like to stroll in the course of the community as a visual Muslim girl all the way through a aggravating time ― feeling apprehensive whilst merely strolling down the road.  

 “I’m simply in poor health of it, the stuff they have been shouting,” she mentioned after being heckled on digital camera. “However that’s, it’s just for a couple of days, isn’t it? , and I will take this off and I’ll return to being Katie and so they most certainly wouldn’t even make a remark, would they? However for like, Saima, if she come right here and her circle of relatives got here right here, they’d have that abuse at all times, wouldn’t they?”

Alvi argued that Freeman’s prosthetic nostril and different facial adjustments have been intended to be a cover ― and that the makeover was once by no means meant to mock an ethnic workforce, or create a cartoon.

“The programme made me realise that there are in truth respectable folks available in the market who lack the chance to have interaction with the Muslim group,” Alvi wrote in her blog. “Thus their evaluations are in line with the not unusual demonisation of Muslims, which is most often perpetuated via the media. Katie was once prepared to be told in regards to the setting she was once immersed inside of and subsequently modified lots of her former destructive evaluations.”

Khan claimed that her staff met and gained approval of the theory from Manchester’s British Muslim Heritage Centre. However The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella frame of over 500 Muslim organizations, informed HuffPost that they needed Khan had additionally reached out to the nationwide frame. 

“There may be price in consulting nationwide Muslim our bodies for recommendation, over and above the folks within the programme, as this may increasingly assist the manufacturing perceive the prospective nationwide affect of delicate problems – the energy of feeling of which seems to had been underestimated,” a spokesperson mentioned in a commentary. 

The Council nonetheless counseled the documentary’s contributors.

“We want to reward the contributors who demonstrated one of the most very best qualities and traits within the face of actual demanding situations.” 

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