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I do not mean to diminish some of the great work celebrity poets have made, but here it goes beyond tokenization—a phenomenon that has been well-documented—the unfortunately prevalent idea that there are limited ‘minority spots’ available in the industry.This is where the intersection of identity politics and capitalism hurts us all, as it commodifies our bodies, our identities, our rich and diverse histories.On October 10, 2002, I submitted the following as part of a required essay for my undergraduate journalism course in Media Ethics, following a presentation by an alumnus, Byron Pitts, who had returned to his alma mater to speak about his coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan for CBS News: I gave a copy of my essay to Mr. I also inquire about other factual errors cited in the interview: “Iran is not part of the Arab world, why mention the Arab Spring in this context when their revolution happened a couple of decades ago? That is like saying I speak Mexican.” Her response is cordial.
What troubles me are the systems that enable these non-native translators to be the spokespeople of our languages.Where do the boundaries of cultural ownership for translators begin and end?On different occasions I have contacted emerging women poets with interest in translating their work and have been thanked for my interest and then told that *GASP* they are already being translated by a white person.without naming any poets who have been mistaken as Arab; 4. I am interested in showing how even an Arab can sometimes fail to see another Arab. I am interested in writing truthfully in a way that helps us see each other.using only source quotes from published pieces about or by Arabs, of which there is a long history of intersectional writing that demonstrates how we share pain and learn from each other. How deeply unrepresented I felt by Joudah’s piece – and how in some way, even in writing this, I may be guilty of the same erasures or misrepresentations. Fleeing the aftermath of revolution, of occupation, of wars perpetrated by imperial lies. And as the body migrates it is subjected to constructs of the land it has migrated to. I am interested in burning down invented hierarchies so that we can run with easy breath toward a more just way of living together. It is 2018, and I find myself still asking the same question as I read headlines and take stock of the agendas journalists are setting; still clarifying that not all Arabs are Muslim and not all Muslims are Arab. • • • PART ONE: The Translator is Not an Ally or It Goes Down in the DMs The archive speaks for itself: After reading an interview with a translator working from a language she cannot read, write, or speak, I ask her, via direct message, the obvious: How can you translate if you don’t speak the language?“As for the Arab Spring, I know Iran was not one of the countries but the writer refers in his poems to unrest in the region.” As to the poems being written “in Persian,” she writes that her co-translator “is Iranian and I defer to his judgment,” though she admits that she also found the terminology odd.To review: This co-translator has no knowledge of the language or culture she is working from.The editors trust her answers and do not fact check them.This critique cannot end without a note also about the prominent Arab male translators who routinely translate works that center the patriarchy and partake in the objectification and exotification of Arab women. In addition to the title which read as cultural appropriation, he wrote: “I cannot imagine any class of editors at would publish such an insensitive piece of travel memoir into Blackness.” It is precisely in this conflation of experiences that Joudah’s piece panders to the white liberal gaze.It is a gaze I have no interest in engaging, unless of course it is to gouge it (right to left), or hold a mirror to its ugliness, its limitations, its superiority complex.