Return to Sender: Panelists

We will have an amazing discussion after the premiere of ‘Return to Sender’ in Rochester, NY, on May 4th, 12pm, at the Cinema.

Buy tickets here.

Post-screening panelist Sumayia Islam:

Sumayia graduated from Nazareth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science. She is currently working as a Community Impact Coordinator for a Philanthropic Foundation. Sumayia is one of the brilliant women featured in the film.

Panelist Hernease Davis:

Hernease is a photo-based artist and an Assistant Curator at the Visual Studies Workshop where she develops programming that addresses contemporary conversations in the photographic arts. Hernease earned her B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College and her M.F.A. in Advanced Photographic Studies from Bard College.

Panelist Urvashi Bhattacharya:

Urvashi spent the first 26 years of her life in India and professes an unwavering loyalty to the Indian cricket team and vegetarian food. While in India, she got her Masters in International Economics and an MBA but moved to the United States before embarking on her professional journey. She currently works at Syracuse University where she is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Project Management. Urvashi stars in the film along with Sumayia Islam and Fatimah Arshad.

Noqtah #1: Religion in modern and contemporary art of the MENA region

Wendy Shaw (Ph.D. UCLA, 1999) is Professor of the Art History of Islamic cultures at the Free University Berlin. Her work focuses on the impact of coloniality on art-related institutions, modern art and pre-modern discourses of perception, with emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and regions of Islamic hegemony.

Watch Wendy Shaw’s 30-min lecture for Noqtah, an Instagram Live Series organized by AMCA (Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey) here. It was originally posted on Oct 26, 2020.

A Palestine reading list from Black Women Radicals

There is no excuse, absolutely none, for being uneducated on Palestine. A brilliant reading list from Black Women Radicals ????

Repost from @blackwomenradicals:

We, who believe in freedom, we as Black feminists who believe in freedom –– freedom from white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, transphobia, queerphobia, ableism, and other oppressions –– unabashedly believe in and stand in solidarity for a free Palestine.

We created a reading list that offers a brief primer on the radical Black feminist political mandate, which is solidarity with Palestine.


i have been so insanely busy working on talks, an art exhibition and a film, and promoting as well as collaborating on the execution of numerous events, that i have not spent much time simply hanging out with ammi abbu. last night i took a small break. made some barbecue chicken pizza and a big salad with a spicy mango dressing. then watched mughal-e-azam (1960) with my parents. an indian classic set in emperor akbar’s court, the film is kitschy of course and requires the suspension of disbelief, but i have to say, i was captivated by madhubala. her real name was mumtaz jehan begum dehlavi. she was born in delhi in 1933. not just a beauty. there’s something magnetic about her screen presence. the film is two hours long and we were up until midnight but what a lovely way to spend an evening with my ammi abbu. #grateful

writing obits is easy

my feed, on all platforms, is still enriched by sinéad, the beautiful shuhada’ sadaqat. people are reminiscing and sharing personal stories, others are writing about her courageous, unflinching activism, her incomparable, transcendent voice and music, her deliberate decision not to embrace commercial success and its oppressive demands, her painful childhood and mental health struggles, but also her unique, unforgettable, otherworldly presence, her incredible generosity… i cannot help but think how this kind of validation/admiration would have meant so much to her when she was alive. a warm blanket made of countless memories, words and emotions that could have held her. perhaps it’s easier to write obits and tributes than to be there for people. it shouldn’t be that way.

photo: getty images/ringer illustration