Monthly Archives: April 2010

Marquette Meets the AAAN

Youth Organizing Program team visits Marquette University

When the Youth Organizing Program (YOP) team visited Marquette University on April 15th, they were struck by the apparent lack of diversity on the campus. They’d been invited by the school’s Muslim Students Association to take part in Islam Awareness Week by visiting AAAN board member Louise Cainkar’s class on Arabs and Muslims in America and guest-starring in an evening spoken word event—“I-slam”—in a campus coffee shop.

Though the campus is majority white, the YOP team spent time with mostly students of color from the school’s Arab and Muslim population, and race was a theme throughout the day. They began the presentation in Cainkar’s class by doing a check-in with the prompt, “A time I experienced oppression was…” One Lebanese student described how his teacher in high school accused him of being responsible for high gas prices, and confronted him about it on a regular basis during class. A woman who was the “only brown person” at a Catholic school said administrators called a meeting with her parents after 9/11, in which they suggested that they remove her from the school “for her own safety.” Cainkar mentioned not being hired in academia because she studies Arabs.

The YOP team explained that check-ins with interesting and creative prompts are a staple of the AAAN youth program, which aims to “help youth understand their identity and feel comfortable in their own skin, and understand the issues that affect them,” according to coordinator Gihad Ali. “Our goal,” she said, “is not to create the very best [spoken word/ hip hop] performer,” but to help youth grow and gain confidence.

Bringing it back to Chapter 5 of Cainkar’s book “Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11,” the class talked about how identity is affected by the way people are represented in society. “Our youth are vulnerable to these anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes; some of them coming into the program have not wanted to identify as Arab or Muslim,” Ali said. “Arabs aren’t in the history textbooks.  So if they’re learning about themselves, it’s through the media. Some will identify strongly as Arab but won’t know anything about the Arab world, or with Palestine but won’t know anything about the Occupation.”

“That’s why,” said YOP team member Muhammad Sankari, “we talk about what it means to be a person of color and what place [being connected to where our families are from] means.”

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Stevenson Students Choose New Books

Display at Oak Lawn Public Library

Sponsor AYWA in March of Dimes

Dear Friends,

The AAAN’s Alliance of Young Women Activists will be walking 6 miles for premature babies this Sunday, April 25th. Visit the AYWA team page at http://www.marchforbabies.org/team/t1401507 to make a donation through the “Donate to This Team” button on the right side of the page.

Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. We’re walking because we want to do something about this.

The money we raise will support March of Dimes research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives. And it will be used to bring comfort and information to families with a baby in newborn intensive care.

Please join our team. You can do so on our team Web page. If you can’t walk with us, please help the team reach our goal by making a donation. You can do that online as well.

Thank you for helping to give all babies a healthy start!

Listen to Associate Director Rasmea Yousef on Chicago Radio

Listen to Associate Director Rasmea Yousef and Census Fellow Fatmah Tabally discuss the Census with Islamic and Arab Voice of Chicago Community radio host Yousif Marei:

http://aaan.org/Census%20Interview.mp3