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Writer Of The Week: Imran Siddiquee

‘I try to write out of love.’

Our favorite stories at The Establishment are those that linger long past the point of closing a browser. These pieces don’t just exist in the moment — they exist in perpetuity, inspiring further pondering and lengthy conversations days, months, and even years after they’re written.

Imran Siddiquee’s stories are the kind you can’t shake — and that’s a very good thing.

Perhaps this is because Imran is so obviously thoughtful, clearly taking his time to explore every facet of the fraught, nuanced issues he tackles in his pieces. When a writer is so openly reflective, you as a reader are compelled to reflect deeply in turn.

The best pieces don’t just exist in the moment.

Consider, as an example, “How We Learn To Love ‘Good’ White Men With Guns,” a story that uses chilling, compelling facts to make keenly observed points about racist conditioning. “In order to challenge a lifetime of learning to center white lives and seeing violence as good,” Imran writes, “we need to see — recondition ourselves with — images of Black people who are not just killing or being killed.”

Or sit for a while with this paragraph, from “How To Make White Movies”:

“The lives of white men are surely worth representing on screen, but creating the illusion that systems of oppression have no part in those lives is a noticeable mistake — and one which reinforces oppression. In the same way that we acknowledge that the lighting or score can alter a film, so can an ignorance of race and gender.”

Passages like this are designed to stay with you — to enter your very consciousness, helping you to see the world, and your own beliefs, in a new light. If there’s a better writing aim than that, we don’t know what it is.

Below, Imran talks about coffee highs (a conspicuously recurring theme among our writers of the week), Insecure, and the song from Monsoon Wedding that he just can’t get enough of.

You can generally find me writing in short, infrequent bursts on a coffee high while daydreaming about the movies I wish existed.

The writers that have most influenced my life are bell hooks, Virginia Woolf, Arundhati Roy, Junot Diaz, Rabindranath Tagore, this is so hard to answer!

The TV character I most identify with is: the entire staff of “We Got Y’all” on Insecure.

My most listened to song of all time is: Not sure about all time but maybe “Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai” by Mohammed Rafi (and mostly because of Monsoon Wedding).

My 18-year-old self would feel surprised and confused and maybe excited about where I am today.

I like writing for The Establishment because it’s an openly feminist space, and the editors are passionate, engaged, and always making my writing better.

If I could only have one type of food for the rest of my life it would be Kitchuri (the kind my mom makes).

If I could share one of my stories by yelling it into a megaphone in the middle of Times Square, it would be: “The Truth About the Men Who Riot and Kill.”

The Truth About The Men Who Riot And Kill

Writing means this to me: I try to write out of love, to carry forward the work of those before me, to try and dismantle oppressive systems and build something new — but also maybe out of fear, curiosity, and necessity.