Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar has recently drawn public attention for her vile and offensive tweets about Barbara Bush’s death, but this isn’t the first time she has behaved out of line. Back in 2014, Jarrar wrote a column in 2014 for Salon sporting the title: “Why I can’t stand white belly dancers.”
According to Jarrar white belly dancing is “cultural appropriation,” and claimed, “Google the term ‘belly dance’ and the first images the search engine offers are of white women in flowing, diaphanous skirts, playing at brownness. How did this become acceptable?”
She continued to whine senselessly that the phrase “belly dance” is only known in the Western World, a construction derived from the Arabic “Raqs Sharqi.” Jarrar highlighted this “cultural appropriation” started in the U.S. back in the 1890s, adding, “Many white women who presently practice belly dance are continuing this century-old tradition of appropriation, whether they are willing to view their practice this way or not.”
Thinking back to a time when she saw a white woman performing a belly-dance, Jarrar described her as a “white woman … in Arab drag — because that’s what that is, when a person who’s not Arab wears genie pants and a bra …”
When comparing this white woman to other Arab belly-dancers, Jarrar’s preference, she admitted they “used to dance in the expected bra and skirt but later danced mostly in robes that were somewhat shapeless and more traditional.”
Jarrar’s column stated:
“It’s Arab face,” my friend Nadine once said, pointing at an invitation from a white acquaintance of hers. The invitation was printed on card stock and featured the woman and a dozen of her white friends dressed in Orientalist garb with eye makeup caked on for full kohl effect and glittery accessories. We wanted to call these women up and say, “How is this OK? Would you wear a dashiki and rock waspafarian dreads and take up African dance publicly? Wait,” we’d probably say, “don’t answer that.”
She insisted “white belly dancers” were doing harm:
Women I have confronted about this have said, “But I have been dancing for 15 years! This is something I have built a huge community on.” These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.
Jarrar finished her article with this statement:
Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in; we are not bangles or eyeliner or tiny bells on hips. We are human beings. This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community; can gain a deeper sense of sisterhood with each other; can reclaim their bodies; can celebrate their sexualities; can perform for the female gaze. Just because a white woman doesn’t profit from her performance doesn’t mean she’s not appropriating a culture. And, ultimately, the question is this: Why does a white woman’s sisterhood, her self-reclamation, her celebration, have to happen on Arab women’s backs?
Why this piece of rag-sh*t column was published to begin with is beyond comprehension, it is Salon we are talking about though. Other than it being a complete waste of time, it gives character reference of this professor. A bitter woman, who believes her ancestral culture gives her permission to be racist and rude.
We support her freedom of expression, but we also support our ability to cr@p on her for her opinions too. It’s not hate, just intolerance of her intolerance.