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speaking engagements

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last week i spoke at two separate events – i was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the pioneer library system (with about 140 librarians and administrators in attendance) and i addressed congregants at the first presbyterian church of pittsford. i spoke about physical and metaphorical walls/borders and how libraries could help dismantle them and about islam and the process of othering. on both occasions, as far as i could tell, i was the only POC, the only muslim, the only immigrant present. some of the first questions i was asked: “where are u from?” and “are u from saudi arabia?” but then i got to show a clip from a conversation between edward said and bill moyers, i got to explain the meaning of orientalism, i was able to quote audre lorde and adrienne rich, describe an academic paper about the status of mary in islam, explain the taliban in purely political terms, break down racism as institutional/systemic, and provide people with a list of alternative media. sometimes one’s very presence is an act of disruption.

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