FEMINIST FRIDAY: Exploring Identity & Racism In Monisha Dey’s Short Film ‘Turban Fever’

Welcome to another edition of our weekly Feminist Friday column! That time of the week where we get to check out some awesome videos that we can’t get enough of. In our commitment to intersectional feminism, we created this column to share video content that shows why the movement is important to us.

This week we have videos created by and featuring women who are starting important conversations about identity with the intent to make cultural change. Our first video is a trailer for filmmaker Monisha Dey’s short documentary called ‘Turban Fever’.

The film sheds light on racism against the Sikh community in USA. Post 9/11, Sikhs were subjected to hate crimes simply because of their appearance, but their way of dealing with this hate that stems from ignorance, is an amusing one – through peace, love and acceptance. Filmed in New York, it includes a personal account of Vishavjit Singh as he puts into perspective what it feels like to live as a Sikh in America. 

In 2018 Monisha screened the film at festivals in the US, Mexico and India and she was nominated for Best Female Filmmaker at the Westfield International Film Festival in New Jersey. The reception of the film encouraged her to bring out more stories about the South Asian diaspora to the world through documentary storytelling. We’re already a fan of her work and have no doubt you will be too. Watch the trailer below and head to her website to see the film.

The second video features a badass woman who ran for Congress in the 2018 mid-terms, and although she didn’t win her election, she is doing something very exciting for other women, mothers in particular, who plan to run for office.

Liuba Grechen Shirley was the Democratic candidate for New York’s 2nd Congressional district and found that running a campaign with young children was difficult at times. In fact, as Fortune points out, every female Congressional candidate with kids under 2 lost their race. But Liuba is out to change that by launching a new Political Action Committee called Vote Mama – the first political action committee devoted to supporting progressive mothers running for office.

The PAC will endorse and fundraise for progressive female candidates with children under 18—and connect those endorsed candidates with elected officials who can guide them on how to juggle motherhood and running for office. She managed to attract some media attention by getting other female candidates and elected leaders to share their own stories of discrimination as well as difficulty using the hashtag #YesMamaCan on twitter, and the responses show just how overdue this conversation is.

Liuba may have made history by running for Congress as a mom, but now she is hoping to change the course of history and help see more women and mothers get elected to political office, showing that motherhood shouldn’t be a barrier to politics. NowThis covered her story and the launch of her new PAC. Watch below:

The final video we’re sharing this week, to end on a lighthearted note, comes from Dove. As we all know, they’ve been in the business of female empowerment and changing the cultural tone of conversations around female body image for many years.

Their latest campaign features artist extraordinaire and former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, who enlists the help of a group of young girls to promote the message behind ‘Crown’. For many young women, their hair is a huge part of their identity, and with an increasing number of troubling stories around the US where especially black girls are being punished for various hair styles by their schools’ uniform policy, the message behind this video is timely.

“Some put you down for your hair. Different hair is beautiful. Dove + Kelly Rowland present Crown, a hair anthem to girls who wear the hair they love. Proudly,” says the description of the video.

Kelly Rowland also weighed in on why she felt it was important for her to be part of this campaign, given the timely conversations around how black women are policed for their appearance and identity, stemming back to deep systemic discrimination that still exists in American social fabric.

“I’m so excited about “Crown” created in partnership with Dove. It’s a power anthem inspired by, and starring, real girls who have faced bullying and discrimination for their hair. Own it. Love it. Wear it proud.”

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