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Greg, are you aware that you can have a Muslim character without making their entire identity about being Muslim? You realize weâre regular people, right? Most of us arenât religious zealots. We donât think about being Muslim 24/7. Itâs just part of our identity. You donât really need to mention it, just like you have never mentioned the religion of any of the main white characters. Or is it more that you feel the need to remind the audience that youâre so inclusive for including Muslims? Whatever it is, you need to stop. This is clearly a blind spot of yours. And donât reply that some org youâre working with says youâre fine - they donât speak for all of us and you canât hide behind that to dismiss criticism.
I'm not hiding behind anyone. But I also feel just fine saying that an organization like MPAC likes what we're doing and encouraged same. As did the Muslim writer who wrote the episode and the Muslim actor who performed the role. My point is - and always has been - simply this: JUST BECAUSE YOU PERSONALLY THINK SOMETHING DOESN'T WORK, DOESN'T MEAN THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY AGREES WITH YOU. PERIOD. You don't get to decide for all Muslims what does or doesn't play. I had plenty of Muslim fans thrilled over our depiction of Khalid. Doesn't mean you have to be, but stop trying to tell me that you personally represent an entire religion, when I have a list of people who are also of that faith disagreeing with you.
And, yes, of course, Muslims are regular people. Just like Khalid, for example, who didn't talk about his Muslim identity at all in five out of the six episodes he appeared in this season. So he did talk about it in one episode. One episode that happened to specifically be about a crisis in faith. That doesn't make him a zealot, as you so kindly labeled him. His faith is part of his identity, just as Zatara's Catholic faith is part of his - putting the lie to the notion that we've never addressed the faith of any "white" characters. (Or do you think Zatara is a zealot, as well? Or does he not count because he's not YOUNG?)
In any case, Khalid's faith matters to him. And we're just fine depicting that. For some characters, their faith (whatever it may be) is a big part of their lives. For others, it isn't. That's the way the world works. Why wouldn't our show reflect the world?
Take the excellent ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary, for example, where the character played by Sheryl Lee Ralph (our Amanda Waller) is constantly expressing her faith and her belief in God, even though none of the other characters do. (At least not that I've seen so far.) This is life.
The funny thing is, I had other Muslim viewers tell me I couldn't hide behind MPAC to justify Khalid being a practicing sorcerer. To which my answer was much the same.
And on the other hand, I had some fan write me asking why I had gone into depth on the faith of a Muslim and a Christian and hadn't done the same for a Jew. If I did a Jew next season, I'd have someone else ask me why I hadn't done X religion or Y.
So, yes, for these reasons, I am dismissing your criticism. Not because I'm "hiding" or "blind" but because it is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to please everyone. So whom should I listen to? One "Anonymous" fan? Or an organization of human beings who are standing up to see that their people are treated well in Hollywood media. What makes you an expert over them? Why would I do what you want? So that I can "hide" behind you instead?
Basically, Brandon and I go with our gut while following the advise of people who work hard to see representation flourish in this industry, which in and of itself we see as important and necessary and as better storytelling. This isn't new territory for me either. I've been doing this kind of thing since Gargoyles.
There's no blind spot. I'm doing this on purpose. And I like it.