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Strange Fruit: Filmmaker Michael Wolfe on Muslims in America

Documentary filmmaker Michael Wolfe is probably not the image that comes to mind when most people think "Muslim." In fact, he's a middle-aged white guy from Ohio. But he is a convert to Islam and has spent his career telling the stories of Muslims in America—a story that goes back further than you might think (there were Muslims in the USA during George Washington's lifetime, and of course, many enslaved Africans were Muslims). 

Stereotypes about Islam abound, and often intersect with other forms of bigotry, especially since 35% of American Muslims are African American.Wolfe was in Louisville recently, courtesy of the Pakistani-American Alliance for Compassion & Education, to speak about major Christian figures like Jesus, Moses and Mary and the role they play in Islamic theology. He stopped by our studios to tell us more about his work, including his film Prince Among Slaves: The Cultural Legacy of Enslaved Africans, which was screened at the Frazier History Museum.In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, we have an update on George Zimmerman. We told you last week he was arrested for threatening his girlfriend; she has decided to stay with him and has asked prosecutors to drop the charges against him. While many states will proceed with domestic violence prosecutions without the victim's cooperation, victims are often the only witnesses as well, so those cases can be hard to prove.We also talked about representations of black lesbians on reality TV, and a recent article called 11 Things You've Always Wanted to Know About Lesbian Sex But Were Afraid to Ask.We also drew some parallels between the racist and sexist reactions to the so-called Obama selfies, and a viral episode of What Would You Do featuring a black man and his white girlfriend in a Harlem barbershop. Both stories suggest that black women see white women as a threat to their relationships, which Dr. Story says is a made-up media narrative and a tool of white supremacy and patriarchy."Because if they're so fighting over the black men," she explains, "they aren't going to be working on feminist stuff or moving gender forward."

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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