La Vida Más Chévere de Childfree Latinas

Repercussions of Media Bias on Arabs, Muslims, & the Childfree with Professor Evelyn Alsultany - Ep 57

February 27, 2024 Paulette Erato Episode 57
La Vida Más Chévere de Childfree Latinas
Repercussions of Media Bias on Arabs, Muslims, & the Childfree with Professor Evelyn Alsultany - Ep 57
La Vida Más Chévere
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What does media bias have to do with how marginalized groups are perceived? EVERYTHING. Media bias—the way we see certain groups on TV and in movies—has a massive impact on how we view people in real life. And whether or not we see them as real human beings, or merely caricatures we don't have to care about. If people in the margins don't comport ourselves in a very specific way, then we aren't deemed worth giving a damn about.

In her book, Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion, Professor Evelyn Alsultany painstakingly tracks the "logics that legitimize excluding people, that legitimize inequality" and rejects the need for anyone to act like a "good" <insert marginalized person here> to be accepted. 

Aside from being an expert on Arab and Muslim representation, Evelyn is also a childfree Latina. As a Cuban-Iraqi American, her work exposing why we view Arabs and Muslims through a narrow, Hollywood-perpetuated lens can helps us understand why we might make unfair assumptions about people based on their choices, skin color, accent, religion, and so on. It's obnoxious, it's outrageous, and we shouldn't accept it! Professor Alsultany is pushing back, and she's inviting us to do it, too.

This episode contains mentions of terrorism, rape, school shootings, and genocide.

Evelyn's bio:
Evelyn Alsultany is a professor in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC’s Dornsife College and a leading expert on the history of representations of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media and on forms of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism.

Alsultany is the author of Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion (2022) which was listed as one of the 10 best scholarly books of 2022 by The Chronicle of Higher Education; was a finalist for the Association of American Publishers’ Prose Award; and received Honorable Mention for the Arab American National Museum book award. She is also the author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11 (2012).

Alsultany has served as an educator and consultant for Hollywood studios (Netflix, Amazon, NBC Universal) and co-authored criteria, the Obeidi-Alsultany Test, to help Hollywood improve representations of Muslims. She has published op-eds in The Hollywood Reporter, Time, and Newsweek.  

To get the full show notes, and an episode transcript, go to PauletteErato.com/shownotes. This is episode 57.

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Paulette:

Buen día mi gente, and welcome to La Vida Más Chévere, the only Spanglish podcast for childfree Latinas y Latines trying to dismantle the toxic cultural bullshit we all grew up in so that we can live our best lives instead. I'm your resident childfree Latina and host Paulette Erato. I'm not going to mince words, mis amigues. Today's episode is going to be a tough listen. It's subject matter that can be polarizing, and yet I'm going to ask you to listen to it anyway, because you can do hard things. You can push outside of your comfort zone. That is, after all, how you design your best life. I asked my guest, Professor Evelyn Asultany, an Arab Latina, to be on the show precisely for the discussion you're about to hear. I'm a huge fan of her work, the deep dive she's taken on these really difficult topics, oof! I'll have her whole bio in the show notes, but the highlight is that she's the author of several books, the latest of which is Broken, The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion. And our interview is ostensibly about Muslim and Arab relations in the US, which the professor is an expert on. But what we're actually talking about is the toxic cultural normalization of how we view certain groups. What I hope to help you dismantle and unlearn through this interview is everything you've been taught, not only about the Middle East, but also about any other minority group. Think about every stereotype you've heard from the Islamic terrorists to the classic welfare queen, or the Asian model minority, or the selfish, childfree woman. I want you to think about why these stereotypes exist. It's because they're serving somebody and that somebody is probably the patriarchy. And I want you to think about what you specifically gain from perpetuating them. As a childfree Latina, it doesn't serve me to support the idea that, you know, Asians can't drive or Black women are always angry because all that does is further divide us into insular groups, when what we should be doing is uniting ourselves across these ridiculous boundaries against the patriarchy. Against the forces that pit us against each other so that they can continue to fleece us of our labor for the gain of a very small group of people. We need to stop doing that because we are not going to get anywhere fighting each other. And that's the whole point. They, the patriarchy, and all the systems that fall under its umbrella, classism, ableism, misogyny, capitalism, and yes, racism, keep us distracted from the real problems. Not that all these isms aren't real problems, they are, but instead of fighting against them, we fight each other. And that's by design. So, if you want to design your best life and live your vida más chévere, then you've gotta do some uncomfortable things. Things that might tax your empathy, but because you know the value of self love and self care. And if you need help with that, please check out the last episode. Then you are ready and armed for this fight. While you're listening to this episode, I want you to think about all the parallels that exist between this subject and that of other marginalized groups. I want you to see how the tactics are the same in almost every case. And I want you to care. And then I want you to do something about it. There won't be any satisfactory answers in this episode. I think at the end of it, you're going to end up even more uncomfortable and probably a lot more pissed off. And that is good. Because when we step out of our comfort zone and confront these atrocities, we light a spark for changing ourselves and everything around us. So take that fire you are bound to feel and put it into action immediately around you. Look, listening to this might be hard. I hope it's hard, because that's going to show you that you have empathy, and that's a good thing. But even if you are on the opposite side of the political or socioeconomic or hell, even the color spectrum, from me, I hope you'll listen to this with an open mind, and more importantly, with an open heart. Because we are all scapegoats for someone else's agenda. Today, we're just talking about this one group. As a trigger warning, I will let you know we are going to talk about terrorism, rape, school shootings, and genocide. I told you it's going to be a tough episode. As a last note, the professor is also a childfree Latina. We don't dive too much into it, but check out the Substack for a short video about her talking about her cats. That said, she is yet another shining example of someone who doesn't want kids of their own. And yet, still makes an impact. She spends all day, every day, especially between the months of August and May, educating, mentoring, shaping, and worrying about someone else's kids. Yet people dare to call us selfish? Today, we are dismantling some toxic cross cultural bullshit because my guest today is Professor Evelyn Alsultany, who has a very interesting background. Not only, Evelyn, are you Cuban on your mom's side, Iraqi on your father's side, had a stepmom who was Colombian, who converted. But you were also born and raised in New York and now live in LA. That's a lot.

Evelyn:

It is. Yes.

Paulette:

You are also the author of this book, Broken, The failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion, which is, hey, you want to get angry, read this. By the way, I started reading this on a plane. You mentioned on a previous podcast that you were on that you're always a little concerned about anything that people might say to you on planes.

Evelyn:

I am. I've had a lot of not so pleasant conversations from the chatty person sitting next to me on the plane. And so, you know, what do you do for a living? I study racism. I hear a whole lot of opinions about racism not mattering. Or what's that book you're reading? Oh, it's about anti Muslim racism. It's just a hard, uh, start for a conversation. So I usually try to hide what I'm doing on airplanes. And try to avoid conversations on airplanes.

Paulette:

Are you an introvert?

Evelyn:

I am. Oh. I would say I'm a semi, semi introvert. Are you?

Paulette:

No. No. No. I should give some quick background. So I first heard Professor Asultany on the Wine Chisme Podcast with Jessica, who, who's great. And then you were at her live event here in Los Angeles. And that was a panel on representation in the media. Which is your whole thing, right?

Evelyn:

That's my jam.

Paulette:

Muslim and Arab representation in the media. But that particular episode, which I will link in the show notes, was you sandwiched between two very different personalities and their takes on Latina and Latino, Latine representation in the media. And your face during that, it is, I don't think it's on YouTube, but I had a front row seat to your reaction.

Evelyn:

I was trying to mediate what was happening. I was trying to find a middle ground between the two. But they both had, you know, valid, valid points. They did.

Paulette:

I think it was a very interesting discussion. I think that's part of what's going to guide our discussion because as Latinas, as childfree Latinas, both of us, and the subject matter that you study and teach others, how does that not exhaust you?

Evelyn:

I have to say, it is exhausting. And I sometimes talk to my colleagues, because in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, we all teach about racism. What would it be like to teach about math? I'm just wondering. Or, you know, sometimes I fantasize about creating a class that would be lighter, not difficult. And I can't think of one that I would do because then it's not interesting to me.

Paulette:

Right.

Evelyn:

So I teach courses about the history of racism in the U S. Right now, I'm doing a broad one, but sometimes I do specific ones about Arab Americans or how Muslims have been portrayed in the media. And they're, they're difficult topics. And I've had moments where I'm looking at my students' faces while we're discussing a topic. Uh, for example, a few years ago, I taught a course about Islamophobia, and I showed a video clip of Bill Maher's episode that I talk about in the book, where he basically says that Muslims are incompatible with liberal values. And I had, I think, 40 students in the class and at least 20 or 25 were Muslim. And as I played the clip, I remember looking at their faces to see how they would react. And I thought, I really hope I'm helping them figure out who they are in the world and figure out how to deal with this perception of who they are. But what if I'm traumatizing them? Or even this week in class we were doing a segment on history of racism in the United States, particularly anti Black racism. We looked at an encyclopedia entry from the 1700s that has the most grotesque description of what a Black person is. And also at that moment, I just, I think about the black students in my class and what that must be like to read that material and realize that an encyclopedia was defining your entire group. So I have moments where I'm, I'm, I'm hoping I'm helping students to have awareness and understanding of a long history of creating logics that legitimize excluding people. When I have moments where I worry that I'm either traumatizing them and other moments where I, I do think, wow, it'd be nice to teach something lighter. But I can't see myself doing that because I'm so committed to this particular project.

Paulette:

I think you have to be. This isn't something you can just turn on when you walk in the door to your lecture hall. Do you do large lectures or are they smaller, more intimate classes?

Evelyn:

My typical, this semester, I have two classes. Each has 50 students. Yeah.

Paulette:

So a bit more intimate discussion than the 400 person lecture hall.

Evelyn:

Correct. I like 50. I can still learn your name.

Paulette:

So let me ask the most obvious question. In your book, you define this umbrella of what is acceptable about a Muslim. And how they are portrayed in the media. And you said it starts with the, the patriotic Muslim, and then it becomes a bit more nominal, and then there's the good Muslim. It basically all boils up into a good Muslim: American, liberal, whatever those tenets are. Are you what would be considered a "good Muslim"? Do you consider yourself a "good Muslim"?

Evelyn:

I have to say this question is a funny question. That's for me, it makes me laugh because for me, I am neither a good Muslim or a bad Muslim. What I'm trying to do in the book is reject, or make us aware, of what it takes to be included in the U. S. So aft9/11 11, as you were describing, this idea came up and there's a scholar at Columbia, Mahmood Mamdani, who's written about this figure. You're a good Muslim if you support U. S. policies. You're patriotic, and patriotic in the most narrow sense of the term. It's not patriotic that you're going to defend democracy and freedom when it's being attacked. It's you support what the government is doing during the war on terror. You don't question it. You just support it. You put a flag outside your door. You're willing to fight and die for the United States. A lot of characters on television emerged who were good. They were patriotic Americans who worked for the CIA, who worked for the FBI, or on the show 24 that was on for many years. They worked for CTU, the Counterterrorism Unit. And they show their patriotism and that they are good and acceptable because they're willing to fight and die for the United States. So that figure came up, and it was good because we've seen so many terrorists. So compared to the terrorists, okay. This is a nice character, but it was very limited. And so in the first two chapters of the book, I'm trying to trace, what are the pathways to inclusion? Suddenly, Arabs and Muslims can be included in diversity. What does that look like in representation, in the world? And then the other character that emerged, this was maybe 10 years after 9/11, was the secular Muslim or the nominal Muslim. And this is someone who doesn't care about religion. The example I have in the book is the reality TV show Shahs of Sunset, which is about a group of Iranian friends. Some are Jewish, some are Muslim, but those who are Muslim, they drink, they party. They have sex

Paulette:

And tattoos.

Evelyn:

They have tattoos, yes. They behave in ways that make them acceptable. I mean, there's actually an Islamophobic website that commends them and says, if all Muslims were like these people, we wouldn't have a problem with Islam. And it's not to criticize— because as a Muslim, some are very religious, some are not. Like in any faith, there is a range of religiosity and devoutness. So it's not to criticize someone who isn't religious and who still has some kind of association. They grew up Muslim. But it's that this particular form of being Muslim became acceptable.

Paulette:

I want to point out that the professor's description of quote unquote good Muslims mirrors what's been happening with Latines for so long. Two of the most popular talked about shows right now are Griselda, about the Colombian drug lord played by Sofia Vergara, and the upcoming documentary on Selena's murderer, who I'm not even going to say the name of because fuck her. For the most part, Latines are still a punchline, like Sofia's character on Modern Family. If we're not the punchline, then we're probably violent criminals like in the Sons of Anarchy spin off The Mayans, Narcos, Queen of the South, and now Griselda. But then shows like Gentefied, which is about your typical LA family, those get cancelled. At least we still have This Fool, for now. What Professor Asultany is describing is what happens to all the minorities that Hollywood has deemed to include. They all seem to go through these prescribed stages that then allow the general public to become more accepting of said minority. They have to be introduced in a very specific way. And this narrative is harmful.

Evelyn:

So I've been trying to track what do acceptable Muslims look like, because it's not just, Oh, Muslims are welcome. It's, you have to conform to a particular idea.

Paulette:

You have to fit in this box.

Evelyn:

Exactly. Patriotic, secular, and it ends up being very rigid framework, and it reveals a lot about the parameters of inclusion. It's not an open door, there are parameters. I'm trying to figure out what, what are those parameters? What are the limits? And, and it also changes over time, so trying to track how it changes.

Paulette:

What I found really interesting is, well, there's a lot I found interesting, let's be honest. For any of you listening to this, it is a hard read. But it is a worthwhile read because there are many parallels between what Muslims and Arab Americans go through, and any other marginalized person. And you make that point, repeatedly. There is violence between blacks and Arabs, Latinos and Arabs. And it's like, we're all fighting against each other instead of the patriarchy and the systems in place that have allowed for this. And that's always my point as a childfree Latina, that parents and childfree people are not enemies. We're all on the same side against the system that has pitted us against each other.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

Going back to fitting into this box, again, it's, it's something that so many marginalized people have experienced, sadly. I actually will link people back to an episode with Ana Del Castillo, where she talks about not cutting off pieces of yourself to fit in that box. And I think that is your ultimate point in this book, that there are all of these ways that you are going to be judged and that people are judged and you're never going to win the fight. Because even when you are the most patriotic, the most secular, the most X, Y, and Z, God forbid you have the wrong opinion on this one policy of the United States, you're on a blacklist.

Evelyn:

Right.

Paulette:

Palestine and Israel.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

That is the last chapter. And it is the most infuriating, at least it was for me, in reading it because it's targeting young people, college students. And what was really disappointing is that so many of the examples that you gave happened here in California, which is a progressive state. At the UCs, which are progressive universities. And that, that pissed me off, I'm gonna be honest, it pissed me off. One of the questions I asked you is, is how do you not find your work exhausting? Which you answered, it is exhausting. What do you do to mitigate it?

Evelyn:

Well, it is very difficult. I mean, writing this book was hard to be confronted with so much material, so much real stuff for, I mean, all of my work for the last 20 years has been about 9/11 and the aftermath of 9/11. And so we're talking about government policies, a whole war on terror, USA Patriot Act, war in Afghanistan that killed 30, 000 civilians, war in Iraq that killed 150, 000 civilians, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. A lot of other policies, there was countering violent extremism during the Obama era, special registration during the Bush era, Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Guantanamo Bay prison. I mean, the amount of policies and violence that has been enacted towards Muslims under the guise of national security, the amount of people who have died, is really stunning. It's always hard to sift through that material. And with the book, all the chapters were difficult, but there's one chapter about hate crimes against some young Muslims who were murdered. There were three young people in North Carolina who were murdered by their neighbor in 2015: Dia Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha. And then in 2017, Nabra Hassanen, who was 17 years old, was murdered in Reston, Virginia, which is a particularly difficult case because she was murdered by an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. But reading the police reports and other reports about the murder, that she was raped, she was killed, she was left in a pond, 17 years old. When I was writing that particular chapter, I would cry and have to stop and then come back to it. And speaking about pitting groups together, when that happened, some people in the political right blamed the left for the murder and said, well, the political left loves to allow quote unquote illegals into the country and that's what you get. So they use the idea that this particular man, Darwin Martinez Torres, that because he was undocumented and they said that he was in a gang, there was no evidence that he had been in a gang. Uh, but there are all the stereotypes you have about Latino people were taking place in investigating this particular murder. And then law enforcement refused to classify it as a hate crime. They said it was road rage. So yeah, there's a lot there and trying to unpack it and write about the different layers, it is heartbreaking.

Paulette:

So, what's your way of managing that?

Evelyn:

That was the question. How do I manage it?

Paulette:

Please, I think it's all important. It's all important because so many people who are on the activist track, who pour their heart and soul into it, whether or not they're paid for it, they need to hear it.

Evelyn:

I have to say, I don't, like, have a thing. It's a work in progress. What I do do is that, since I live on an academic calendar from mid August until mid May, when I am on and I am doing, when mid May comes, I am so tired that I really try to take a time out during those summer months when I'm not teaching. You reached out to do the podcast and I was like, I'm so burnt out. I can't do it. So I, that's what I do. I take a time out and I have these conversations with my husband where he thinks I'm being dramatic, but I mean it, and I say to him, if I keep going the way I'm going, I'm going to end up in the hospital. Like, I really feel I can't continue like this. And so in the summer months, it's really important that I disconnect that I'm not going at the same pace. That I go away somewhere. So the summers end up being a very important time to unplug, decompress, and to be able to continue again when mid August rolls around.

Paulette:

Part of this summer you spent, what's the word I'm looking for, rehabilitating, maybe, your soul, getting over the exhaustion that your work causes you. You got to travel. So you're a big traveler. I've heard you mentioned Spain. This year you were in Bali and in Colombia. Where's your favorite place?

Evelyn:

That's a tough one. So you mentioned Spain. I love Sevilla. I have a real love for that place. But, put me in front of any ocean and I'm happy.

Paulette:

You're a water baby too.

Evelyn:

Right, and I'm just wanna sit by the ocean, that's all I want.

Paulette:

There's something about the tides and the movement of water that for me is so restorative. Restorative! That was the word I was looking for, not rehabilitating, restoring.

Evelyn:

That too, why not?

Paulette:

So I get exactly what you mean. We are about to talk about the Middle East. This episode was recorded in late August 2023, which was more than a month before what happened on October 7th. That attack led to the death of 1, 200 Israelis. That's not a small number. Since then, Time Magazine has reported that the death toll of Palestinians as of February 19th, when I'm recording this intro, is about 29, 000 people. An entire generation of people are being wiped off the face of the earth in real time right now before our very eyes. By the way, even though we're concentrating on Israel and Palestine, don't be fooled. Genocidal conflicts like this are happening all the time, thanks in part to the effects of U. S. policies around the world. And this isn't just limited to outside our borders or even to times of war. In case you missed it, another guest and activist, Talia Molé, made reference to the disgusting government mandated practice of forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women. Our own citizens. Links to these resources will also be in the show notes. The U. S. does not possess unclean hands. We know this from our own history, at the birth of this nation. I'm sitting here right now on stolen Tongva land that dates back over 7, 000 years, which is a hell of a lot longer than the United States of America has even existed. It's no wonder that our current global policies treat genocide like an unavoidable side effect. Coming back, in the book you mentioned the blacklisting that organizations do against any people who work in Palestinian issues, anybody that might be interested even in what is the best way to describe the situation between Israel and Palestine?

Evelyn:

I think the best way to describe it would be that Jewish people were persecuted for many centuries. And they wanted to find a solution to anti-Semitism. So there was a political movement called Zionism that led to the creation of the State of Israel in historic Palestine. It was supported internationally right after the Holocaust. And a nation was created to ensure the safety of Jewish people, which they deserve safety and security, but it came at the expense of Palestinians, who do not have safety and security. And even saying that is controversial. It is a fact, but even saying that, any kind of criticism of the Israeli government can lead to silencing, accusations that you're being anti-Semitic. And it was created in 1948. In 1967, the remaining parts of Palestine became occupied. And there's been, yes, there's been violence, but it's portrayed as, oh, on both sides, or Palestinian led, that they're terrorists. And so in my work, I work on Islamophobia, I work on anti Muslim racism and I've avoided this topic for a long time because I don't want to be harassed, attacked. I don't want to be doxxed, I don't want death threats, nobody wants that. But when you're doing this kind of work, in a sense, all roads lead back to Israel and Palestine. There's a very deep connection when you're talking about media representations, this figure of the terrorists that we're all familiar with, uh, a lot of that has roots in how this conflict has played out, in portraying Palestinians as the problem.

Paulette:

And so anyone who dares to point out the fact of the current situation between Israel and Palestine can face blacklisting. Future job prospects disappear. Something that we all need to take awareness of, and your book does a good job of driving home, that zealotry, no matter what it looks like, the zeal with which we are all willing to jump on board an idea once it starts going viral or the appeal of that, the mob mentality, instead of examining what is actually being sold to us as the audience. The audience of consumers, what are we being sold? Terrorism is such a meaty word that immediately throws up everybody's hackles, whether you're being accused of it or accusing someone of it. Once you throw up that word, all bets are off. The inflammation of the subject is past a point of returning to examining something a little bit more intensely.

Evelyn:

Yes. You put Arab, Muslim, and terrorism together and it

evokes something:

fear, they're out to get us. You can't reason with these people, they're backwards, they're violent. It brings up all of that and it's because of political situations over decades. It's not as if 9/11 happened and suddenly this emerged out of the blue. We see the seeds in the Israeli Palestinian conflict starting in 1948 of that figure. And it has developed since and movies intentionally or not have ripped from headlines and told us these stories over time. So we have so many stories about Arabs and Muslims as terrorists.

Paulette:

Right.

Evelyn:

And so it's easy to believe that is, that is who they are. A lot of what I look at are logics that legitimize inequality. So one of the logics is they're out to get us. This is a national security issue. Muslim ban, it's a racist policy, but there are logics that communicate these people are dangerous. You want them coming in here and blowing you up? So a lot of my work is trying to figure out what are these logics that seem logical to a lot of people, but that are actually overgeneralizing and have enormous consequences on people's lives. It is not inconsequential that 150,000 Iraqis were killed.

Paulette:

Right.

Evelyn:

When they had nothing to do with September 11th. 3,000 people were killed on 9/11. How many other people died because of that particular incident?

Paulette:

And we as a nation were sold a story that made us okay with going into Iraq.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

And the people who perpetrated that knew what they were doing.

Evelyn:

We were told there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein, who was a dictator, had the will to use them against the United States. And then it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Paulette:

No, no. We were sold a lie.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

And so we need to examine, let's use this as a, as a greater microscope to examine all the things were sold by the media. I talk about this a lot. You have to be careful what you consume from the media, whether it is anti this, pro that. You have to be very, very careful what you're being sold, what you're being fed, because it could also do a number just on the individual. We doom scroll, and that can really do a number on your mental health. But when we're sold bigger lies and everybody accepts it, you talk about racial gaslighting in the book, that's an entire chapter. And how the U. S. has a policy as the state to not punish officers, for example, for the way they treat black people. We've seen this reported over and over and over and over. There is a policy. The way that you just describe a crisis, the pattern that happens, a school shooting, for example. Wow, we're just hitting all of it today. But there was recently a school shooting at Chapel Hill, another university. There is a response, predictably one side is saying X, the other side is saying Y, more gun control, guns are necessary, whatever it is. And then it all gets flattened out until the next crisis. And you talk about how the same thing happens with acts of terror or with things that can be called terrorism. And how also that's reported so much more often than violence against Muslims or Arabs. Because again, the buzzword, they're the terrorists, they deserved it. Versus, these are just innocent people. Because the media has made it so that we don't see them that way. We don't see people anymore. We see caricatures. And so again, we have to be very careful of what we consume and critical, critical of what we consume.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

Because that is a choice you get to make. You get to choose what you're consuming. I hope when you are consuming this, that it's, it's helping you understand the way that our world works and all of the bullshit we have to dismantle, because this is culturally ingrained.

Evelyn:

It is.

Paulette:

You talk about that in the book, that the character of the terrorist is so normalized that it's really hard to break out of that. But we have to choose, right? We have to choose to do that. And one of the ways that that is possible is through more representation, which is always my thing with child food people, which, you know, run the gamut of white Christian men who are the, you know, top of the pyramid in our society, to the rest of us who can look like you and me or green or purple or whatever. So they're not the same. I'm not trying to conflate that the racialization of anti-Muslim crimes and policies are the same as the way that childfree people are kept out of society, but there are some parallels and that's why I wanted to talk to you today.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

Because you are also a childfree person.

Evelyn:

I am, and I, I agree that there are some parallels. You know, my book is not about gun violence, but I think the concept that we tend to deal with issues when there's a crisis, and then when the crisis goes away, we don't deal with any, we know there's a problem with gun violence in this country. It's not every single day on the news, and we're concerned, and then we're not. And same thing with all kinds of racism and discrimination. Regarding the childfree representation, I mean, the goal in my book with looking at representations is that the goal is Muslims are people, like any other people. There are 1. 8 or 2 billion Muslims in the world. You can't say they're all like this. And so, with any group that's stereotyped, including childfree people who have been portrayed as either pathological, like in Fatal Attraction, or, I feel like there are a lot of workaholics!

Paulette:

Or stupid people.

Evelyn:

Oh, stupid people, people who can't take care of themselves.

Paulette:

Exactly.

Evelyn:

They're so selfish and self obsessed, or they're workaholics and unfit to be mothers. So, I mean, I feel like with all of these stereotypes, the goal is like, is guess what? We're people too who can live fulfilling lives.

Paulette:

Thank you. The fulfilling lives part. That's my favorite thing because I'm living my best life. That's why that's the name of this podcast. And I assume you are also living your best life with your husband and your cats.

Evelyn:

Yes.

Paulette:

So you moved to LA about four years ago, pre pandemic, teaching at one of the most hallowed institutions in California, if not the world, a private university. Do they have any rules against anti-Palestinian activism? Because the public universities in California do.

Evelyn:

Right, the public universities do. So I wouldn't say the private one has any rules, but they face a lot of pressure. So, it's not a good place to do Palestinian rights activism.

Paulette:

Is there anywhere that is a good place to do that?

Evelyn:

No, there's, I can't give you one no.

Paulette:

No, no.

Evelyn:

There are severe consequences for that at universities across the country.

Paulette:

I highly recommend you read chapter five of her book, again, Broken, The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion, to understand why that is. She makes a very, very, very good argument about this. You make an excellent argument.

Evelyn:

Thank you.

Paulette:

It will piss you off, and that's just the price. Plus $30 to buy it. There will be a link in the show notes. So then what's next?

Evelyn:

So I have to say I'm still figuring that out, and I am working on something.

Paulette:

Ooh!

Evelyn:

But I don't know if I can say it here yet.

Paulette:

How long did it take to write this?

Evelyn:

10 years.

Paulette:

Yeah, it seemed like it would have. I would love to have you back again to further explore some of these themes and also talk about how being childfree has looked in your life because we didn't touch on that and that's okay because it's about dismantling the toxic culture of bullshit with the side of childfree.

Evelyn:

Love it.

Paulette:

Thank you so much for being here. I admire you. I admire your work. I would love to read more. I'm going to go get your other book. So the first book is from 9/11, 10 years plus, and then this one is the 10 years after that. So I kind of read them out of order, but you did just release this one last year, right?

Evelyn:

I did.

Paulette:

Well, again, link in the show notes. Go get it. It's going to be an affiliate link, so it helps me and it helps the professor. So it's win win win for everybody. So, Evelyn, would you please take us home?

Evelyn:

That's a burrito.

Paulette:

Do you got something to say about this week's episode? DM me on Instagram at Paulette Erato. And if you'd like to be a guest on La Vida Más Check out the guest form on my website at pauletteerato.com. All of these links are in the show notes. While you're at it, can I ask you a favor? I'd really appreciate your helping spread awareness about the podcast. So could you please share it on your socials or even send it to a friend? New episodes come out every other Tuesday. You can enjoy them with tacos or burritos. Muchísimas gracias for your support y hasta la próxima vez, cuídate bien.

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