JVP in nyc

so i joined JVP’s NYC chapter and they welcomed me w such warmth and love. added me immediately to their cinema palestine team and are super excited by all my ideas (i have too many). the other people on the team are filmmakers, playwrights, artists, an assistant curator at the whitney, and a psychotherapist who’s palestinian american. all activists of course and lots of young people. thrilled to start working together:)

new york botanical garden

back after 17-18 years. we used to visit every weekend when we lived in north woodmere. my son took a gardening class there when he was in first grade:) it was always one of my favorite places in nyc. i remember we’d look at keating hall, fordham’s gothic tower, and wonder what the bronx campus looked like. now my daughter is studying at the university’s lincoln center campus. she was one or two back then. the garden is still gorgeous, a repository of sensory pleasures that does the soul good:)
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botanicalgarden #nybotanicalgarden #bronx #newyorkcity #newyork #sanctuary #natureisbeautiful #soulhealing #gardening #northwoodmere #longisland

Trump rally

we decided to go to a car wash on jericho turnpike today and got stuck in the middle of a huge trump 2020 rally. 100s of trucks, jeeps and cars, all fitted with flags, honking aggressively, white people sitting in the back of pickup trucks shouting and waving banners, women screaming ‘four more years’ from their car windows, cheerleaders in full trump regalia cheering them on at major intersections. the procession was never-ending. went on for almost an hour as i stood by the side of the road taking pictures. what was more unsettling than the rally itself were other drivers honking to show their support and brandishing their fists in the air. a veritable nazi spectacle.

The Injured Body: Chronology

I read Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ in 2015 I think (it came out in the fall of 2014) and started thinking about a film that would use micro-aggressions to approach the broader subject of racism in America. I remember this conversation with friends in 2016 where I was able to articulate some of the ideas swirling around in my head. Rajesh and I started to shoot in 2017. I’ve always wanted this project to be bigger than the film, discussing some of those ideas with Luticha in particular. Now that I’m transcribing the interviews we shot 2-3 years ago, there’s such resonance with what’s happening right now. I hope to share with our community soon:)

How a handcuffed Black man suffocated as Rochester police restrained him

A Black man died of asphyxiation earlier this year after Rochester police officers trying to take him into protective custody pinned him to the ground while restraining him.

The incident occurred in March — two months before George Floyd’s very similar death in Minneapolis touched off nationwide protests — yet it didn’t become public until now.

The curtain was lifted on the death of 41-year-old Daniel T. Prude at a late-morning news conference Wednesday at which Prude’s family and local activists called his death a murder and demanded that the officers involved be fired and charged in his homicide.’

instead of being accountable, the rochester police decided to arrest activists asking for justice today. more here.


The Injured Body: Tonya Noel Stevens

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Tonya Noel Stevens, co-founder of Flower City Noire Collective and Director of Cause and Effect Greenspace, talks about processing racist micro-aggressions:

That’s really something I’ve been working on, like not harboring those feelings or the negative things people give me, and it’s not even just microaggressions, it’s any negative energies fed my way. If it’s not something that I can process and turn into light, and that I could share back with that person… then you can keep it, it’s all yours, and I try not to take it in.

Because then I end up with it… And I’m really about taking ownership – ownership of one’s body, and what’s mine and what’s not mine. When you hit me with that negative energy and add those negative vibes, and then that negative talk, that’s not mine, none of that is my language, none of that is how I’m moving in the world. So you just have to keep that. And I’m good for saying I don’t accept that. You keep it, I’m just not even gonna take that in, because when I do, then I have to find space for it.

So gardening is a big thing for me. And that’s really what I try to harness and tell people like, we’re in a garden, this is your place to bury all that, put it into an affirmation and put it into a seed, put it into the ground and like let it grow into something else because if not, it’s still growing inside of you.
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microaggressions #racism #LGBTQrights #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #rochesterny #urbangarden #communitygarden #eatwhatyougrow #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

Stop Celebration of Hatred in New York Times Square!

I wasn’t even aware of the American Indian Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and their problematic big-money politics here in the US. Pls sign this petition by the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, which ‘denounces the impending display of economic and political power designed to belittle the people of Kashmir and India’s religious minorities by the Hindutva forces in the US’:

While the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP-led government is forging ahead with its dangerous agenda of destroying the syncretic culture of India and compromising the Indian Constitution itself.

An outlandish celebration of the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi temple will be on display all day on August 5th in Times Square, NYC, with much extravagance and pomp and show. This temple was built on top of the Babri Mosque, destroyed by Hindutva-nationalist mobs in 1992. Thousands, mostly Muslims, were killed in consequent riots.

A section of the Indian diaspora who are transfixed by the BJP-led government have paid huge amounts of money to project the phrase “Jai Shri Ram” in both Hindi and English, portraits and videos of the Hindu deity Ram, 3D portraits of the temple’s design and architecture as well as pictures of Modi laying the foundation stone on several of the iconic Times Square LED screens. This exhortation of a mythical past is a diversion from the real economic and social marginalization of the vast majority of Indian people. The crass spectacle of Hindutva ideology also coincides – deliberately, no doubt – with the first anniversary of the abrogation of the constitutional guarantees of Kashmir’s special status.

More here.