Beyond Islamophobia: How American Stories Transform Communities
October 10, 2018
Following the March 2017 funders briefing Addressing Islamophobia: The Roles of Arts and Culture, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program and the John Brademas Center of New York University are hosting a second meeting. The goal for our learning commons is to continue stimulating a cross-pollination of ideas, strengthen connections and plant seeds for greater collaboration among funders working in this area and along its intersections.
Addressing Islamophobia brought together peers from philanthropy to hear from artists, activists, practitioners and funders using arts and culture to overcome a lack of understanding and bigotry toward America’s Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) community.
Beyond Islamophobia: How American Stories Transform Our Communities built on the 2017 conversations to highlight fresh thinking from artists and activists who disrupt the noxious cultural narrative to advance understanding and social cohesion for mutual well-being of MASA and broader communities. Moving beyond the defensive frame of fighting Islamophobia, their fresh thinking and experiences in the public square through unique storytelling intends to inspire and encourage engagement and support for this work.
8:30 AM Doors Open, Breakfast
9:00 AM Welcome - Zeyba Rahman, Building Bridges Program, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
9:15 AM Context Setting Keynote - Zaheer Ali
9:45 AM Session 1, Telling Tales: Rediscovering American History
11:15 AM Session 2, Storytelling as a Force for Change: Recrafting
12:30 PM Lunch
Zaheer Ali, Oral Historian, Brooklyn Historical Society
Zaheer Ali is the Oral Historian at Brooklyn Historical Society, a nationally recognized urban history center founded in 1863, dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of the history of Brooklyn, New York. As Oral Historian, he records, collects, and curates the lived histories, testimonies, memoirs, and narrations of Brooklynites from all walks of life. Recently he co-directed a project that built an online portal for Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history collections. Currently, Zaheer direct Muslims in Brooklyn, a two-year multi-faceted public history project designed to amplify the stories of Brooklyn’s Muslim communities and contextualize those stories in the broader history of Brooklyn. He also co-host and co-produce Flatbush + Main, Brooklyn Historical Society's monthly podcast that explores Brooklyn's past and present through scholarly discussions, historical archives, and oral histories.
In addition to Brooklyn, Zaheer’s scholarly interests include Malcolm X, Prince Rogers Nelson, Islam in America, and 20th century United States history.
Zeyba Rahman, Senior Program Officer, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
Zeyba Rahman is Senior Program Officer for the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The Building Bridges Program supports projects that advance relationships and increase understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Previously, Rahman led internationally and nationally recognized projects as a creative director/producer to promote understanding between diverse communities. The roles she has performed include: director, Asia and North America, Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco; artistic director, Arts Midwest’s Caravanserai: A Place Where Cultures Meet; curator, BAM’s Mic Check Hip Hop; creative consultant, Public Programs, Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia Galleries; chief curator, Alliance Francaise’s World Nomads Morocco Festival; project director, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation/National Endowment for the Arts' Global Cultural Connections; and senior advisor, Muslim Voices Festival.
She is an advisor to Artworks for Freedom, serves on the steering committee for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s Music Awards and the nominating committee of the Civitella Foundation, Italy among others. Twice honored by New York City’s government, Rahman is the subject of two television profiles as a global arts leader.
Session 1, Telling Tales: Rediscovering American History
Nigel Redden, General Director, Spoleto Festival USA
Nigel Reddenisthe general director of Spoleto Festival USA. He rejoined the Festival in October 1995 after having previously served as the Festival’s general manager from 1986 to 1991. Mr. Redden was director of the Lincoln Center Festival from 1998 to 2017. He has also served as executive director of the Santa Fe Opera (1991 – 1995), artistic consultant to Philadelphia’s American Music Theater Festival (1992 – 1994), and consultant to the chairperson of the New York International Festival of the Arts (1991 – 1992). He was director of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Dance Program from 1981 to 1986 and has served on various NEA panels over the years. He is president of the Spaulding-Paolozzi Foundation, and in 2001 he was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. The son of an American diplomat, Mr. Redden was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. He graduated from Yale University in 1972 with a degree in Art History.
Sokeo Ros, Director, Case Closed!; Director of Hip-Hop Dance Program, Everett: Company, Stage and School
Sokeo was born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand, arriving in the United States at the age of three. Sokeo joined Everett as a creator and performer and has taught many master classes in universities throughout his touring experience since 1998. In 2004 he founded the hip-hop based company, Case Closed!.
Case Closed! has performed at venues across New England, including Brown University, Providence Performing Arts Center and The Yard.
Sokeo received multiple RISCA grants for his working including his latest piece, From Refugee Camp to Project. In 2016, he was awarded Rhode Island Monthly’s Best Documentary Theater. He is currently working with students in middle schools to help them cope and understand their trauma in collaboration with the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS). For the past 6 years he has worked with incarcerated you in Massachusetts in collaboration with the Department of Youth Services. Soeko was invited as a speaker/performer on TEDxTalk Providence in 2016 & 2017.
Facebook: Sokeo Ros
Eddie Torres, President & CEO, Grantmakers in the Arts
Edwin Torres joined Grantmakers in the Arts in October 2017. He most recently served as deputy commissioner of cultural affairs for New York City. Torres served on the GIA board of directors from 2011 through 2016. Prior to joining the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, he was a program officer with The Rockefeller Foundation. He prior served as director of external partnerships for Parsons the New School for Design. He has also served on the arts and culture team at The Ford Foundation as well as on the staff of the Bronx Council on the Arts. He holds a Master of Arts in Art History from Hunter College and a Master of Science in Management from The New School.
Cristal Chanelle Truscott, Artistic Director/Playwright, Progress Theatre
Cristal Truscott is a playwright, scholar, educator and founder of Progress Theatre. As a playwright, Cristal blends academic and pop-culture conversations to examine the concerns and struggles of our times. Her artistic work has garnered recognition and grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Performance Network and Theatre Communications Group among others. The Map Fund and Idea Fund support her site-specific project: Plantation Remix. As a scholar, Cristal has served as Assistant Editor of the performance journal, The Drama Review; Associate Editor, Azizah Magazine; and on the editorial boards of: Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory & Black Masks Magazine: Theater and Entertainment. As an educator, her engagements include working with San Francisco State University, University of Houston, Spelman College, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia University and internationally at Wits University in South Africa, Albeda College, DOX Theater Group and Theatre RAST in The Netherlands. M.A. and Doctoral degrees from NYU’s Department of Performance Studies with a research focus on representations of spiritual diversity in African American Theatre before 1950.
Session 2, Storytelling as a Force for Change: Recrafting Narrative
Kalia Abiade, Director of Programs, Pillars Fund
Kalia Abiade is the Director of Programs at the Pillars Fund. In this role she oversees the community infrastructure fund, managing grantee relationships and the annual grant cycle, and she provides leadership for emerging Pillars initiatives.
Prior to joining Pillars, Kalia spent four years working with community-based groups, faith communities, and national coalitions to challenge organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements and their policies. She is an experienced trainer and convener on issues related to communications and racial justice. Kalia has more than 15 years of journalism experience, was a contributor at In These Times, and taught high school students in rural Southwest Virginia with the Upward Bound program. Her analysis has been cited in the Washington Post, The Nation, NPR, Public Radio International, and USA Today, among other outlets.Kalia holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and studied race and social policy at Virginia Tech.
Twitter: @kuhleeuh, @pillars_fund
Instagram: @ailak, @pillarsfund
Farhan Latif, President, El Hibri Foundation
Farhan Latif is a philanthropic leader, social entrepreneur, and cross sector mobilizer on
inclusion. He is the President of the El-Hibri Foundation, a private foundation that empowers and equips leaders to build thriving, inclusive communities. Prior to joining the Foundation, he led the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding to conduct research that contributes to
democracy and pluralism in the US.
He spent over a decade in higher education focused on inclusion of underrepresented, low income, and first-generation students. As a social entrepreneur, he founded Strategic
Inspirations, a social impact consulting firm. Authors Genieve Abdo and Akbar Ahmad have
chronicled Farhan’s journey in combating extremism and working towards inclusion in their
books Mecca and Mainstreet: Muslim Life in America After 9/11 and Journey into America: The
Challenge of Islam.
Mr. Latif received an MA from Harvard University, where he completed a specialized
interdisciplinary program on Social Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy and Education.
Meira Neggaz, Executive Director, Institute for Social Policy & Understanding
Meira Neggaz is the Executive Director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), where she is responsible for the institution’s overall leadership, representation, strategy and growth. She leads ISPU’s team to conduct and broadly disseminate research on American Muslim communities and issues impacting upon them. Before joining ISPU, she worked internationally for more than a decade, leading large scale health and development programs. She holds a BA from Huron University, a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy focused on human rights law and development, and an International Health Certificate from Boston University. She not so secretly wishes she were an artist, filmmaker, or musician - but without the talent to match, she includes art in her work at every chance she gets.
Hussein Rashid, PhD, Founder of islamicate
Hussein Rashid, PhD, is founder of islamicate, L3C, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy and cultural competency.He currently teaches as an adjunct at Columbia and The New School.He works with a variety of NGOs, foundations, nonprofits, and governmental agencies for content expertise on religion broadly, with a specialization on Islam. His work includes exploring theology, the interaction between culture and religion, and the role of the arts in conflict mediation.His research focuses on Muslims and American popular culture, and has a background in South and Central Asian studies, with an interest in Shi’i theology. He is currently working with the Children’s Museum of Manhattan as a content expert for their “America to Zanzibar” exhibit. He recently finished co-editing a book on Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, and is coediting a volume on Islam and Popular Culture. He is also co-authoring a cultural history of Muslims in America.
http://www.husseinrashid.com | Twitter: @islamoyankee
The goal for our learning is to continue to stimulate a cross-pollination of ideas, strengthen connections and plant seeds for greater collaboration among funders working in this area and along aligned intersections.
* What kind of creative collaborations can encourage social cohesion in our communities
* Where currently thinking and practices exist that can be adapted to advance mutual wellbeing
* How storytelling is contributing to narrative shift in communities
This briefing offers an opportunity to discover new possibilities to spark next action steps.