By Nara Schoenberg
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Chicago fashion blogger Hoda Katebi says she hopes that her WGN interview encourages people to question simple narratives about politics and society.
She’s a hashtag; she’s a meme. Chicago fashion blogger Hoda Katebi’s response to a WGN-TV news anchor who told her that she doesn’t “sound like an American” when she criticizes U.S. policy in the Middle East has been reported by media in Russia, England and Dubai. More than 10 million people have seen online clips of the contentious interview.
The controversy started in late January, when Katebi, 23, and author of the 2016 book “Tehran Streetstyle,” was interviewed by WGN Morning News anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten for a segment on Iranian fashion.
When Katebi, who wears a hijab, or Muslim headscarf, pushed back against the idea that Western dress in 1970s Iran connoted more freedom for women, the interview got political. Potash asked her whether Iran can be trusted when it comes to nuclear weapons, and Katebi responded with a critique of U.S. “imperialism” in the Middle East, citing “all of the violence that (the U.S.) hasn’t only created, but created the capacity for.”
“A lot of Americans might take offense to that,” Baumgarten responded. “You’re an American. You don’t sound like an American when you say things.”
“That’s because I read, you know?” Katebi said, laughing as she cut off Baumgarten with a line that would become a meme.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Katebi, a University of Chicago graduate, said the interview went by in a rush and she didn’t fully process it until later when she obtained a video from a third party.
“I would not have gotten that comment had I been white,” she said of Baumgarten’s statement “You don’t sound like an American.”