More than 8 years ago I️ stepped away from performing ... Now on the eve of my 40th birthday, I'm coming back to the stage!
My newest project, Documented cIRCA 86: Immigration Reform Turns Thirty (cIRCA '86) is an oral history and multimedia public engagement project that celebrates the lives and accomplishments of immigrants who were legalized through the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.
We have one week left for you to support the healing and transformational work that telling our stories can accomplish.
The Muslim Women’s Story Lab is working to keep all of us human and to have our humanity recognized through storytelling, community engagement, and the arts.
As media personalities and political candidates spread divisive messages of fear and misinformation, this is an important time to reflect on how we choose to recognize and uphold the humanity within ourselves and each other.
With one week left in our fundraising campaign we need you more than ever.
In today's climate, story and art are more necessary than ever. We need these important tools. The Muslim Women's Story Lab is a unique and hopeful approach to mobilizing Muslim women around issues that they face using storytelling, theater and art-making.
I’m asking if you will direct some of your power to back this project which has brought tremendous hope and light to me in these troubled times.
It is winter for the forces of oppression … the spring belongs to us!
Join me to sow seeds of peace, unity, women’s power, and creativity!
3 exciting things below! My writing, an event at the NYC Municipal Archives, and the Muslim Women's Story Lab moves forward!
Here's a little excerpt to get you interested:
"So I look down at my feet. My sandals are touching ground where Diego Rivera once stood, or sat, or walked by. I’m pulled into a world which, when he was creating it, was all but banned subject matter. Poor people’s lives, indigenous lives, didn’t matter. He made space, literally, by painting giant public murals that projected the sound and color, history and memory of poor and working class people in Mexico. And he showed not only what he knew to be true, and beautiful, but what he knew had power to change the world." Read on ...
And here in New York, I'm making the final preparations for a discussion at the NYC Municipal Archives on the history of sterilization abuse in NYC and the struggle for change.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
31 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007
We have a terrific panel and will be displaying archival materials from the women's own collections. Here is one example of what you'll see:
Last but not least, I got great news that the Muslim Women's Story Lab is going to move forward this fall! Stay tuned for updates.
Have a wonderful Independence Day. It's time to get free!
I can’t seem to turn on the news without having violence, persecution, oppression and the worst of human behavior splashed in my face. Yesterday, I was speaking to my partner’s ex-roommate and he, teasingly, asked me what war-torn part of the world was I planning to visit next? The truth is I’ve had many impulses to run away and try to heal the pain of the world — somewhere else — but I’m counseling myself to stay here.
I went to a wonderful talk last night organized by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance on reclaiming feminisms at the grassroots. The inspirational speaker, Sandra Moran, spoke about planting. The first part of creating something new is developing an idea, planting a seed. To do that, you must reclaim what is yours and decide that territory will be where something new can grow.
I’m using this blog space to make you all aware of a wonderful organization I am on the board of – Free Dimensional. Since 2006, fD has worked with nearly 200 artists and culture workers, from over 35 countries, who are at risk because of their art. We help find them safe haven in artists residencies, small living grants, and we develop tools for our partners to use in supporting artists in danger.
Happy Spring! — Nowrouz Mubarak! For those of you who have been thrashed around by the waves of winter, do not despair! The shore is near. This winter, my experience of being in the world has felt like one of a sea lamprey attached to the fin of some great whale. Yes, I get food, great soul-enriching sustenance from doing what I was born to do, but the ride is not an easy one.
After co-leading a wonderful weekend workshop looking at the ways we internalize our defeats and let oppressive messages stop us from going after our deepest desires, I am still asking myself “do I have the courage to be happy?” That depends. Do I know what makes me most happy and am I able to see it and feel it clearly? By clearly I mean am I able to see past the layers; the media images of happiness, the broken record of social messages about happiness, the fear that covers any impulse to disbelieve the imposed voices. While the U.S. is meditating on thanks and having (we talk about giving thanks but isn’t it always focused on what we have — a series of things on a checklist — like a Christmas list?) I’m walking away from the deeply held notion that I need more money to do what I most want.
Sometimes I wonder if everything I’ve thought of, everything I’m thinking of, has been thought before. Often, it’s in bouts of depression and my conclusion is that I’m probably useless and unoriginal. (Yes, I am being a bit dramatic but that’s me!) These last few months, however, when I reflect on the originality of my being (how embarrassing) I have been grateful for all the thinking that has come before me. Millions of people, doing the best they could, have lived lives and laid the groundwork for me to do what I do. Being immersed in the world of craft, it is starting to make more and more sense that originality isn’t highly prized. It’s nice, but it isn’t the point.
What is the experience of time? Sun up to sun down; the phases of the moon; an 8-hour workday; the passing of a birthday; the harvest; the sowing; the completion of a thought? The time for group remembering, the communal gatherings and the personal, internal time; we live between the two. My time in India so far has been a weaving between the two forms – personal and collective.
The famous banyan tree in India has aerial roots. That means small seedlings growing on its branches send down vine-like extensions that upon hitting dirt, take root and anchor the tree. If left unchecked, a single banyan can expand into a maze-like thicket of its own creation. A tree intertwined around another tree, creating shadow trees. I’m living in a similar metaphoric spiral right now. Thoughts shooting straight downward, leading to confusion, leading to pause, leading to insights, leading to growth.
I’ve come back from Afghanistan about 3 weeks ago, and in another 3 weeks I am heading off to India for 8 months on a Fulbright grant. I’ll be returning to the country of my birth and the adopted homeland of my people. It will be strange to be back in a place that is so familiar but so alien. It’s like meeting a celebrity in person. You recognize her, you’ve seen so often. However being here, face to face, makes you realize that you have no idea who this person is and she knows nothing about you.
How do I talk about difference without putting a value judgment on it? If one thing is different than another, must one thing be better than the other? How can I value multiple experiences, approaches and perspectives while keeping a sense of self? Must I choose one as better so that I can hold on to something familiar? This project is different than the rest of my work in Afghanistan. I am not working directly with a theater group, I am working with media makers; writers, producers, researchers from Equal Access, Afghanistan. I am training them in methods of participatory storytelling for community engagement and social change
As I prepare to return to Kabul for a short project with the US Institute for Peace, I wanted to take the time to wish everyone a very happy Eid. May it be filled with closeness, kindness and a renewed hope for human liberation. May the best and brightest parts of your spirit shine. The end of Ramadan (marked by Eid) this year coincides with the Zoroastrian time of prayer and reflection for our dearly departed. The prayers we held at my parent’s home fell one week after the death anniversary of my maternal grandmother. As a girl growing up in India when she did, Dina Arjani was not to be educated past middle school, but her family relented after her insistence.