Monday, June 27, 2011

Pushing back against Islamophobia

My daughter (readers of the blog know that she is a college student at the University of Texas) is in Beirut. She is in an intensive summer Arabic program at American University in Beirut. She has, also, been doing some research for her senior honors thesis in the History department at UT which she will be completing this coming year. I am very proud of her.

Back home, when I share that information, I am greeted with the type of comments and looks that define the world of an anthropologist outnumbered and outgunned in Texas, America, U.S.A....all the way....

Let's tell this one through visual culture, today. Here is what they are thinking:

and here she is in Beirut:

So far, so good. But then the summer is still young. Plenty of time for her to acquire a few labels. /sarcasm.

Seriously, though. I have the care of her car and I was pleased to find that she left behind some of her CD's acquired at UT. My current favorite is by Omar Offendum, a Syrian-American poet and rapper. I am trying to figure out ways to integrate his work into my Cultural class. Here is some of his work courtesy of YouTube. The first is a somewhat personal expression of the bicultural/bilingual realities of being an Arab-American. Some of you may recognize Paul Anka's Destiny being used here as the driving tract. Paul Anka was of Syrian/Lebanese descent:

Here is a clip of one of his live performances of Damascus:

And here he is performing his poetry which allows you to appreciate the beauty and complexity of his lyrical construction:

I speak no Arabic but this Arabic language version of Langston Hughes' The Negro Speaks of Rivers moves me as much as the original poem:

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

More to come....
Edited 10:20 to replace incomplete video posting with two live performance selections.

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