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January 22, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Talking about Diversity on WXXI’s Connections

At WXXI to talk about From Inclusion to Equity: The Diversity Advantage with the brilliant Tatyana Bakhmetyeva and Mary Scipioni. This conversation with Evan Dawson was just a preview of the discussion happening on Saturday Jan 26th at the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at 2:00pm. Luticha A Doucette and Kristin Hocker will be joining the panel then. The event is already half full, so pls register here and hope to see u soon!

December 30, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Happy 2019!

Happy new year everyone from our family to yours! As we glide past 2018 and into 2019, let’s hope for more kindness, equality, and solidarity throughout our world. Surely things can change for the better. Here is James Baldwin in Nothing Personal, back in 1964:

‘One discovers the light in darkness, that is what darkness is for; but everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found, there is a light.

…For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.’

December 29, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Your silence will not protect you

From Katherine Franke: Year end thanks: I want to extend my gratitude and support to all of our friends and allies who have taken public positions in the name of freedom, have shown up in principled/risky ways, have dared to voice adamant resistance to dispossession, bigotry, and cruelty, and have remained steadfastly committed to justice. They endure ugly, often violent, threats from bigoted trolls, and these threats have intensified following Trump’s lead. As Audre Lorde reminded us, “Your silence will not protect you.”

December 29, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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From Desmond Cole

Racism and police brutality are often invisibilized when they happen across the border, in Canada. Activist and journalist Desmond Cole is trying to change that. Pls read.

‘Two years ago, on December 28, 2016, Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother Christian attacked Dafonte Miller, then 19 years old, with a metal pipe. Police in Toronto and Durham conspired to cover up the crime, and charged Dafonte with assault.

The Theriault brothers, who were sitting in their father’s garage in Whitby, Ontario, chased Dafonte and his friends, who were walking at night minding their business. Michael Theriault was not on duty. The beating led to Dafonte being hospitalized—he ultimately lost his left eye.

[…] John Theriault, the father of the attackers, is also a Toronto police officer—he coincidentally works for the department tasked with contacting the SIU when an officer is suspected of hurting a civilian. Dafonte’s lawyer says John Theriault personally intervened to protect his sons.

Both Durham and Toronto police have failed to hold any officers accountable for covering up the assault against Dafonte. A Waterloo police investigation into the incident has not been released in the 18 months since the attack. Toronto mayor John Tory and the Toronto police board have failed to act.

An interim Ontario Human Rights Commission report shows that Toronto police have killed black civilians at twenty times the rate of white civilians in recent years.’ More here.

December 28, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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An Appeal to Jewish Women to Support the 2019 Women’s March and Its Leaders

people have asked me what i think of the women’s march and charges of antisemitism. here is an excellent response by Rosalind Petchesky. pls give it a read and also look at Katherine Franke’s thoughtful assessment in the comments.

‘For the past nine months, controversy and obfuscation concerning allegations of anti-Semitism and complicity with Louis Farrakhan have surrounded the 2019 Women’s March and its Women of Color leaders, especially Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour. The complaints rage on, leaving a trail of divisiveness and malice in their wake. This is an appeal to the white Jewish women who have participated in this barrage, or stood idly by while it happened, to step back, hit pause, and think more clearly about what fears lie behind your anger, or your silence.

Others have recounted these sorry events with great precision, none more eloquently than Linda Sarsour writing on Nov. 18. It is past time for progressive Jewish women to step up and say, enough. Tamika’s denunciation of anti-Semitism and her honest explanation of how the Nation of Islam supported her as a single mom in Harlem when other resources were lacking should have sufficed. Who among us has not had to reckon with the contradictions and messiness in our own communities and families? My grandmother—a Jewish refugee in the early 20th century who escaped anti-Semitic pogroms in Russia and a patriarchal father who burned her books—was the first person I heard utter the derogatory Yiddish word “schwarze.”

For too many in that generation of upwardly mobile Jewish immigrants, acquiring whiteness was tied to class status and racism. It’s a legacy we, their grandchildren, have to face honestly. When will the white Jewish feminists who rail against Mallory and Sarsour publicly and loudly denounce the Sheldon Adelsons and other wealthy right-wing Jewish donors who support the racist, anti-immigrant, misogynist, militarist policies of the Trump and Netanyahu regimes?’ More here.

December 28, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Humeysha’s Video for “For Love, From the Law” Is Odd in All the Right Ways

Here’s what we know about Humeysha: They’re a quartet based in NYC (made up of Zain Alam, Dylan Bostick, Adrien DeFontaine, and John Snyder), they released their self-titled debut back in October, and their single is a marvelously mellow kind of psych-pop, but it’s clean and sparkly like a diamond baguette, dappled with Bollywood-toned lilts, sung by Alam in both English and Hindi-Urdu (the project was initially conceived in India). Given the current trend for smothering recordings in reverb and lo-fi fuzz, this kind of high def clarity is a real palate cleanser.

“‘For Love, From the Law’ always felt like the song meant to open the album from the moment it was finished,” explains Alam. “Between the verse and chorus, the lyrics alternate from Hindi-Urdu to English and then back. The song distills my family’s stories of coming to the US from Pakistan, weaving in larger themes about promise, leaving for one’s love, and lost homelands.” More here.

December 28, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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‘No Archive Will Restore You’ by Julietta Singh

If Singh glances away from such details, it may be to avoid framing No Archive as solely a catalog of damage. Early on she rejects the idea of focusing on the bodily “imperfections” that women in particular “see magnified so acutely that when we look at ourselves we see not body but flaw… I do not want to gather a body archive strictly in order to convert culturally produced deficiency into historical value; to begin to love in other words, what I have been trained to perceive as a flaw.” She’s after something messier: a portrait of the body as not so much vulnerable as permeable, continuously exchanging signals and material with the world around it. More here.

December 27, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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A Milestone on the Timeline of Israeli Brutality

Belen Fernandez: Ten years ago today, on December 27, 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against the Gaza Strip — a twenty-two-day affair that ultimately dispensed with some 1,400 Palestinian lives, among them more than three hundred children.

The name of the operation was inspired by a Hanukkah poem by H. N. Bialik, national poet of Israel. The Daily Beast mused at the time: “It might seem strange that Israel would name a military operation after a holiday associated with gifts and dreidels, but in Israel, the Hanukkah story celebrates national liberation.”

In other words, perhaps, the slaughter of innocents was not just fun and games — it was also crucial to Israel’s “liberation” from the people it had occupied and abused for no fewer than six decades, since the violent establishment of Israel on Palestinian land in 1948.

The Israeli fatality count from Cast Lead totaled three civilians and ten soldiers (four of them from friendly fire), which put the ratio of Palestinian civilian to Israeli civilian deaths at 400:1. Predictably, however, Israel unfurled its signature brand of criminal illogic to claim the role of victim, portraying itself as under attack from Hamas rockets despite the negligible damage inflicted.

[…] Now, with Israel preparing for its next big showdown, it appears even greater horrors are in store. The head of the IDF’s Homefront Command recently warned that any future war with Gaza or Lebanon might keep the residents of Tel Aviv from blissfully sipping coffees in their favorite cafés. But as we embark on this new decade of Israel’s “national liberation” — with anti-Palestinian savagery facilitated by billions of dollars in annual military aid from the US — it’s not just the Israelis who need to wake up. More here.

December 27, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Men of War

James T. Snyder: Dzevad Karahasan later explores how language is destroyed and becomes a tool of destruction in conflict. This is perhaps a strange thing to care about, when mortars and artillery laid waste to Sarajevo’s landmarks and snipers filled the cemeteries with fresh graves. But he understands how the nefarious employment of language can stoke and perpetuate conflict, and his experience applies well beyond the Balkans.

His essay “Literature and War” is a cold rebuke, in the finest tradition of George Orwell and Czeslaw Milosz, of the abuse of language and literature for political or aesthetic purposes. Language is sacred for Karahasan. “The world is written first,” he writes. “The holy books say that it was uttered in words and all that happens in it, happens in language first.”

When language becomes a mere tool, he argues, when it becomes stripped of its moral purpose, language is defiled. And when language becomes part of the landscape destroyed by war, it can become a weapon. This is more than an attack on postmodern word games, of which he is sensible.

He launches a two-pronged assault on writers who aestheticize human experience, especially human suffering, and those who write what he calls “heroic” literature. His bitter insight seems arcane at first glance but reveals itself to be startlingly germane given our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last few years.

Parsing the first target—“art for art’s sake literature,” […] today’s forever wars have favored those who abandon the hard labor of rendering judgment for the task of pure craft. Sebastian Junger’s and Dexter Filkens’s self-conscious, literary wartime reportage, for example, surrender moral and human judgment to untainted evocation. Verisimilitude becomes the supreme value. While we may understand something about the nature of warfare from reading these books, we won’t understand much more about human conflict. This is “literature that has liberated itself by removing its meaning and sense, reasons and values.”

That is the guilt of this art-for-art’s-sake literature, which is indirectly responsible for all the horrors of the contemporary world….The decision to perceive literally everything as an aesthetic phenomenon—completely sidestepping questions about good and the truth—is an artistic decision. That decision started in the realm of art, and went on to become characteristic of the contemporary world.

When Karahasan goes on to describe heroic literature—“People in this literature are Serbs, Croats, Communists, Royalists, or something similar, in the first place, and only after that, in the second or third place, are they people with personal traits,” he explains—he is writing about political tracts, polemics, and invective.

Indeed, what made the wars of the former Yugoslavia particularly alarming was the role of self-styled nationalist intellectuals calling for the destruction of the Yugoslav international experiment, and Karahasan calls these writers out by name. But we need only remember that peculiar consensus of liberal interventionists and neoconservatives on the invasion of Iraq, and the screeds they published to make their names, to hear Karahasan’s point resonate fifteen years later.

Language’s ability to explore and render human judgment is regularly abandoned for its conscription in the service of blunt political interest. More here.

December 26, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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Bazaars and mazaars: a day in Multan

Tim Blight: As someone with an interest in historic architecture, its importance is huge. Bahauddin Zakariya’s shrine was the prototype design for Multan’s future shrines; its square base with a hemispheric roof, heavily carved wooden doors and mud-brick construction, while individually modest, combine to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.
It was no doubt the most appropriate way to end a day which had seen me delving into the depths of Multan’s historic old city, peeling back layers of history, in search of evidence of Multan’s glory as a beacon for those who wonder about what lies beyond this world.

The sun was about to set, and so I took up my position in the corner of the courtyard as the celestial ball of fire descended behind the shrine’s white dome.

The moon started its ascent into the milky twilight, as the azaan rang out over the city, before the hearty sounds of qawwali began to emanate from a group men near the entrance to the tomb — and I knew I had found what I came for. More here.

December 26, 2018
by mara.ahmed
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always a hero :)

looking thru old photos. my husband’s fam, back in the late 80s/early 90s i would surmise. he’s the one on the left, with the insane shock of hair.