Letter of the Day (Nov. 2): Portrayal of Somalis in 'Captain Phillips'

  • Updated: November 1, 2013 - 5:09 PM

As a Somali-American, I was eager to see it but soon disappointed.

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Tom Hanks stars in "Captain Phillips," about the hijacking of a U.S. container ship by Somali pirates.

Photo: AP Photo/Sony/Columbia Pictures,

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As a high school senior who happens to be a Somali-American, I watched the movie “Captain Phillips” last week. I was eager to see it — but when I started watching, I was chided. With so many things going in the Somali-American community, the last thing that we needed was a Hollywood movie that portrays stereotypes of Somali people. The way Somalis, especially the men, were portrayed as khat-chewing savages angered me. In the past, Hollywood has portrayed Somalis as bloodthirsty villains in such movies as “Black Hawk Down.” In the new movie, when Captain Phillips asks if the Somali pirates want money, they say they want more than they are offered. So, it shows that they are greedy instead of expressing desperation. When I tried to look deeper into the movie, I saw the issue of white skin and black skin. When the Somali pirate Muse comes on the boat, he calls Captain Phillips “Irish.”

As a young Somali woman, I can tell you that all Somali people are not hostile and violent. Don’t let the movie industry’s negative perception of Somali people taint your views.

KHADRO MOHAMED, Minneapolis

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