We’re gonna let Good Look panelist, Yassir Lester answer this one:
"Well, there is a short answer, and there’s a long answer. Let’s start with the long one.
I myself am Middle Eastern mixed. My mother is a black woman and my father a Palestinian man. I cannot pretend that I fully understand the middle eastern experience in America because I was not raised by my father, nor have I had any contact with him or his side of the family since birth. But what I can tell you is that after 9/11, people started paying attention to my first name a lot more than before.
Middle Eastern people in media, as all minorities, suffer from not only a shortage of representation in media, but an incorrect one. It directly correlates to who is doing the projection of images and creation of characters on your favorite shows and movies. Sadly, most of these people have rarely if ever come into contact with a Middle Eastern person. We are still very much a news driven country; the stuff we see on the news greatly impacts our views whether we admit it or not. And if you’re a writer and don’t know anyone from Saudi Arabia, your chances of creating a slanted personification or caricature of what you “think” a Middle Eastern person is like, or an Asian family, or mid-twenties black girl skyrocket, especially if you’re lazy.
No one does the research either. Middle Eastern characters become secondary because at the end of the day, they’re either playing the comic relief or the threat. What’s the point of creating a fully fleshed out character if they’re only appearing in one scene as the owner of a restaurant or a terrorist?
Lastly, the percentage of Middle Eastern and minority writers/creators working in television and film is extraordinarily low. People write what they know, and if they’re not of Middle Eastern descent, the chances of them taking a risk and trying to tell the story of a culture they don’t understand becomes close to zero. If no one like you is writing your story, you can’t expect it to be told.
We live in an era where anyone can create something artistic and throw it online in any capacity, and if the shortage of relatable material is something that bothers you, I want nothing more than for you to go out and make it yourself. Make it YOU. Though it may not be seen by millions, it encourages more like minded and ethnically similar people to do the same, reshaping not only the image of the people portrayed, but also the dialogue surrounding them and gives a true and authentic glimpse into the experience of what it’s like to be Middle Eastern. People complain that the system is broken, and while that may be true, you can easily get involved to try and fix it.
The short answer is well, you haven’t written the script, made the music, taken the photos, or created the story that can flip everything on its head and make people see that the Middle Eastern experience is so much more than the war shown on TV, or threatening young men, or veiled young women. You haven’t done that, yet. :)”
To learn more on what you can do to take action against racial bias, go here!