Walking through Hamra street this afternoon, these images halted me.

The images speak for themselves and just next to them an announcement for a film screening with “Do you want to learn more about racism?”. For me that’s racist! Why would I want to learn more about it? I want to live through motion pictures with these people who may have a wonderful story to share, a story of struggle to survive, hoping the world would understand.
This is disturbing.
I know it meant well and I know we are promoting the film here. But exposing their pictures on dirty walls looking like a ‘missing’ tag for a pet is not a proper way to introduce them.
I am looking forward for the film and I’m sure Dima’s humanity and care would be well portrayed into her doc but looks like a masterclass about racism. A flaw the lebanese society knows well.
Lebanon is a hard country for foreigners indeed, we could be artificial and very judgmental and it’s vital to take this story on screen for people to learn the damage they might be part of un-deliberately.
But again, the pictures sound wrong.
What do you think?

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  1. rouba

    Such issues are always difficult to tackle. It is true that plastering these people’s photos on the walls of Hamra street can be perceived as crude. It’s probably not just a perception. It probably *is* crude.

    But sometimes, to get your message across, you need to be aggressive. Sometimes, you need to cross some lines.

    Racist behavior is aggressive and maybe you need to shake some people up before they can realize that what they’re doing.

    The wording might have been a little bit clumsy and awkward: “Want to learn more about Racism in Lebanon”.

    The title of the documentary itself, “Maids for Sale” on its own, would have been (more) powerful in my opinion. Instead, it is dropped at the bottom of the flyer while it should have been at the center, in the biggest size font. (but these are just details).

    What bothered me more about these posters is that they were *only* in English.

    Who are they targeting?
    The foreign workforce themselves?
    Just university students (maybe some high school students)?

    I get that because it’s projected at the American University in Beirut, a version of these posters should be in English which is the official language of this institution.

    I also get that the documentary appears to be in English, so it is fair to promote it in that language too.

    But I don’t get why, in Lebanon, an Arab speaking country, there is no version of these posters in Arabic.

    It’s as if the film is intended for a certain “chosen” elite and not the Lebanese audience as a whole.

    Projecting the film in Beirut is powerful, provided it is, at the very least, subtitled in Arabic for all the Beiruties to understand and enjoy.
    For all audiences.
    Let’s face it, racism lies everywhere. And even worse in the less “educated” communities (if I may be bold enough to use that term).

    It is also unfair to assume that non-English speakers would not be interested. It’s not just the people who are proficient in English who can be touched by such issues.

    All Lebanese can understand and appreciate that film.

    And all Lebanese can understand and appreciate these people whose faces are now familiar to all those who walked Hamra street in the past few days.

    Instead, now the citizen who doesn’t speak a second language will pass by these posters and only see the face of a foreigner. Nothing more.

    I think that is a little bit sad.

    Reply

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