Time Travel through Pop Culture and Media
In their inaugural session, Cohort participants were asked to talk about the first time they felt represented in pop culture; all said they had no early memories of pop culture representation, except for one participant who grew up in their parents’ home country. This individual didn’t experience the lack of representation as people in pop culture looked like them, even if they didn’t have the same lived experience.
For everyone else in the Cohort, many chose to identify with an identity similar to theirs. For example, West Indian participants identified with other people of color, and Black participants identified with African American Muslims.
A few participants mentioned growing up without pop culture representation made them cynical and disappointed with pop culture, even when later efforts for representation were made.
The intersection of identities has made it more challenging to find accurate representation; participants find bits here and there. They do not have an example of 100% accurate representation.
One participant mentioned that behind-the-scenes representation is just as important as on-screen representation. Seeing a pregnant cinematographer on set allowed them to believe that they can pursue both a career in film and be a parent.
The following works and artists were mentioned by the Lab Cohort as the first representation they have seen of themselves.
- The Rumble in the Jungle
- Ms. Marvel
- Black Panther
- That’s so Raven
- Cheetah Girls
- Bend It Like Beckham
- We are Lady Parts
- The Bold Type (Character: Adeena)
- The Night Of
- Rush Hour
- Romeo Must Die
- Malcom X
- Lupe Fiasco
- Lauren Hill
- Warsan Shire
- Issa Rae
- Hassan Minhaj
- Brother Ali
- Riz Ahmed
- Iman (model)
- Nahla Ayed (journalist)
- Muhammad Walks – Lupe Fiasco
Establishing Community Agreements
In order to have a shared understanding of how to engage in the Cohort, Inspirit shared the following:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
The Cohort was asked to discuss, in breakout rooms, their own agreements for the Lab. All groups emphasized the importance of creating a safe space through:
- A judgment-free environment
- Being patient with each other
- Agreeing that there is no such thing as a bad idea, in order to allow for creative flow
- Agreeing that nobody knows: some questions may not have answers or these
- answers won’t be obvious
- Play testing, experimenting, improvising, trying new things, and getting out of their comfort zones
Cohort members also recognized that, despite the best intentions, not all points of views are at the table, and that the Cohort does not represent all Muslim identities.
Notes compiled by Rime El Jadidi | July 27, 2022