maraahmed.com

un cahier perlé

September 24, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Fritz St. Jean. Dessalines, 1998. More about Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s founding father here.

Fritz St. Jean. Dessalines, 1998


‘…it is hard to overestimate the influence of the Haitian Revolution on other struggles for liberty and equality, especially in the 19th century. U.S. abolitionist Frederick Douglass said Haiti awoke the world both to the horrors of slavery and to the intelligence of formerly enslaved Blacks, who could not only win a war for independence but also govern themselves.

Those who fight today’s injustices would do well to study revolutionary periods in history, both victories and defeats of oppressed peoples. Malcolm X said: “Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.” History comes alive when it is not simply names and dates to be memorized, but when it is read for lessons in political strategy.’

More here.

September 22, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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mass moca

#massmoca was predictably brilliant: #lizglynn #sollewitt #spencerfinch #dawndedeaux #lonnieholley #louisebourgeois #robertrauschenberg and #jamesturrell’s #hindsight (complete darkness) and #intothelight (where one is surrounded by, almost squeezed into, changing, throbbing, vibrant color – i could feel and smell the color on my skin, as palpable as a fine mist) – how i love art ♥

liz glynn


james turrell


james turrell

September 21, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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the berkshires

off to the berkshires soon. haven’t been back for a long time. we used to ski there every year and even thought of buying a cottage there. especially excited to return to MASS MoCA 🙂

September 20, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Reflections from Yom Kippur

Steven Salaita: Reflections from Yom Kippur, during which I was honored to have attended part of a service led by Brant Rosen at Tzedek Chicago and to give a talk on the importance of decolonization:

Rabbi Brant spoke movingly of the need to direct our empathy to peoples and places unauthorized by sites of power. It was a language of worship in a Jewish space, during a Jewish celebration, but nobody could miss its universal importance. (By the time congregants promised to walk with Razan Al-Najjar I was nearly in tears.)

As that portion of the service wound down, I kept thinking about a deceptively simple question: what compels human beings to so readily identify with authority? Or, more pointedly, to so eagerly protect authority from resistance?

We see images of Palestinians in Gaza—beleaguered, impoverished, terrified, entrapped—confronting an advanced technocratic military. The protestors, exiled from their ancestral villages, often carry nothing but an irrepressible desire for freedom and dignity. What makes an observer identify with the men holding guns? With the politicians demanding murder? With the pilots dropping chemical weapons?

How is it possible?

We see images of Black people brutalized by cops—gunned down, beaten, incarcerated for generations—of children at a colonial frontier—scared and shivering, some still in diapers—wrested from their parents. How can anybody take comfort in the jailer, the police chief, the border patrol, the district attorney?

When will affirmations of life cease to be dangerous? Why is it considered radical to uplift the innocent?
How does this happen?

What kind of twisted education, what sort of misplaced identity, can transform observers of conflict into empaths of the oppressor?

These commitments to the probity of force, bred into our apprehension of logic, feel like a systemic betrayal of our impulse to pleasure and cooperation. The trick isn’t finding answers to the questions I raise, no matter how complex and no matter how adamantly we disagree, but in creating spaces for vulnerability and reflection. That’s how I came to understand the notion of atonement yesterday: we can’t redeem our misdeeds by accepting the rewards that accrue from moral laziness.

September 20, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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A negative review can be a great compliment

So “A Thin Wall” is on IMDb but I hardly ever visit the page. Today I was surprised to find a review for the film, by someone called krasicki. The review made me laugh because it’s so obviously written by a white male. It’s not just the name. It’s the deep discomfort with a non-linear narrative and multiple elements that move back and forth and collage stories without the expected concrete structure that will hold ur hand and lead u to an unambiguous conclusion. It’s the need for traditional history, written mostly by (white) men, rather than a collection of oral histories gleaned from the experiences of women for the most part. The reviewer’s racial/cultural sympathies are obvious in how he criticizes the film for “demonizing” the partition (how does one celebrate the displacement of 20 million people and the killing of another million?) and “largely blaming” the British. Lol. The final condescending blow comes in his description of the film as “Indian Kitsch.” Such colonial pettiness. He’s only written one review on IMDb. I’m glad the film got to him so badly 🙂

September 19, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Why We View Black Women’s Anger As Threatening—Especially in Tennis

Jennifer Wright: You are not expected to express your anger while playing tennis, young WASPy girls learn growing up. Tennis is where you are supposed to put your anger. Until you grow out of anger altogether.
Until then, the least you can do is express any aggressive impulses you might be feeling in a pristine white dress with your hair tied back into a neat ponytail. You’re permitted to play provided you also uphold an incredibly antiquated view of ladylike decorum as you do so. And for many people, the idea of being ladylike still means being white, petite, and preferably blonde. More here.

September 17, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Aria at the Lyric Theater

Experienced #Aria at the #LyricTheater today – pure #magic!

“Lush contemporary #dance, #opera, #media #projection and live #music create a new way of seeing the majestic Lyric Theater… and shed new light on opera, #history, and #performance.”

Directed by Missy Pfohl Smith
Performed by BIODANCE
Media projection by W Michelle Harris
Music by fivebyfive with soprano Kearstin Piper Brown