Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Syrian-American Reflections"

"Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror..." 
- Khalil Gibran

Kinda Hibrawi is a gifted Syrian-American painter, calligrapher, using her work to bridge the cultural divide between East & West in a profound way...

May Alhassan is a talented Syrian-American performer & PHD candidate @ USC, using her work to bridge the cultural divide between East & West in a profound way...

Reem Salahi is a brilliant Syrian-American lawyer & online radio host using her work to bridge the cultural divide between East & West in a profound way...

(See where I'm goin with this?)

I, Omar Offendum, a Syrian-American Hip-Hop Artist using his work to bridge the same cultural divide, had the pleasure of sitting down with these inspiring Shami / 7alabi sisters to talk art, activism, & good ole' fashioned SyrianamericanA on Reem's radio show - which was coincidentally being recorded @ Advent MP Studies, where I am putting the finishing touches on my solo record.

In the process I got to see three (much prettier) reflections of myself ...

I met Kinda several months ago & had the honor of performing at her most recent solo art exhibition in Santa Ana - titled "Dear Mr. Gibran" ... A stunning collection of vibrant Arabic calligraphy paintings inspired by the words of Khalil Gibran - a Syrian-American master of verse who's work resonates with human beings all over the planet ... After getting to know her a little better, we realized our stories were even more similar than we had initially thought - as the birth connection to the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia also became apparent.

I met May when I first moved to LA in the summer of 2004, and have had many a wonderful conversation since ... One which was previously posted on my blog when I was a guest on her show "ART-What's Happening" earlier this year ... Her keen intellect, ability to understand / process important socio-political events & deliver her points in an animated way is a breath of fresh air indeed ... That is why her involvement with the "Hijabi Monologues" project has been so important in my opinion - she does a great job of opening up the discussion to a broader audience.

I met Reem only recently, but have known of her for quite some time now ... Her dedication to justice is truly inspiring - a lawyer who has used her knowledge to champion civil rights & empower the disenfranchised members of our communities for years ... A UCLA & Berkeley grad, she is president of the Muslim Bar Association & host of One Legacy Radio's popular new show  "OBJECTION"... She also recently delivered a series of passionate report-back lectures on her experiences in Palestine after the vicious bombardment of the Gaza Strip in December/January of 2008 - which resulted in the loss of over 1300 innocent lives, & the destruction of countless homes, schools, & government buildings ... Needless to say this sister not only talks the talk, but walks the walk - masha'Allah.

Our discussion was so fruitful that it had to be split into two shows - follow the links below to listen:

Activism Through Art - Part I

Activism Through Art - Part II

Reem would later feature my poem "New Year's Eve in Gaza" - with a powerful sonic backdrop provided by the one & only Sami Matar of Advent MP - on a subsequent show commemorating the one year anniversary of Israel's 22 day attack on Gaza - Remembering Gaza

We all have a shared heritage & similar story ...

We all have a similar vision for our communities ...

We all represent that lovely little nation-state-of-mind I like to call SyrianamericanA ...

3iiiish Sooooooriiiiiiis

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