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Tag: Arab American


Building Community Power, One Vote at a Time

Arab society in the United States has regularly been labeled a “one-issue” voting bloc.  Unsurprisingly, this epithet comes from the familiar notion that when it comes to national politics our people formulate their electoral engagement—or lack thereof—purely according to issues of American foreign policy. During the past few months, AAA-NY has displayed its intention to bury that reputation, embarking on a voter registration project that aims to build community power by getting people in our neighborhood prepared vote on the local issues that matter.

The month of July proved to be a strong kick start, the Annual Arab American Bazaar being a primary point of success. On the 8th of July volunteers and canvassers managed to pull in over one hundred votes in just a few hours, proving that there are people in our community who do want to take part in the electoral process.

Whether or not Arabs are “one-issue” voters has arguably not stood the test of time. Like other recent immigrants to the United States, Arabs are often least likely to make it to the polls. In response to this reality AAA-NY has teamed up with other community organizations in Congressional District 13 to form the Verrazano Coalition. By collaborating with Make the Road Staten Island, Project Hospitality and El Centro, AAANY will be able to increase its capacity and effectiveness.

Voter registration canvassing teams have been hitting the streets of Bay Ridge with regularity. Youth energy has propelled these efforts, with our primary canvassing team being composed of keen and knowledgeable high school students. The evidence of their abilities can be found in the numerous videos and photos our Community Organizing Interns have taken and distributed through social media. Without their enthusiasm and commitment, our achievements thus far would be substantially more modest.

As a final part of our voter registration drive, look forward to our candidate’s forum on the 11th of October. People from the community will be able to directly address our representatives and understand their platforms and intentions. All in all, the entire project has been an illustration of this organization’s resourcefulness and tenacity.

And if you’re not registered to vote please come in today and ask to be registered. We’re all looking forward to seeing you at the polls!

Zayd Sifri, Voter Registration Fellow
June 27, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

July 17th Silent March Against Stop-And Frisk

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On Sunday, June 17th the Arab American Association of New York joined over 30,000 New Yorkers to protest the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk policy. Over 300 organizations ranging from labor and civil rights groups, to community and faith organizations gathered in Harlem for a silent march to protest racial profiling and demand an end to Stop-and-Frisk.

The week leading up to the march, AAANY youth held discussions about how the Stop-and-Frisk policy personally impacts their lives, and made posters to carry at the march. On Sunday morning, AAANY brought a busload of people from Bay Ridge to 110th street in Harlem where the march began. About 50 people from AAANY joined the thousands of activists at Malcolm X Boulevard to prepare for the march down 5th Ave.

Our organization marched alongside civil rights groups and community organizations from all five boroughs. High School students carried signs, some marching with their parents and younger siblings. The march was completely silent all along 5th Ave, taking on a similar form as a 1917 NAACP march to protest race riots. Speaking at the march AAANY director, Linda Sarsour said, “We’re here because we will not allow the New York Police Department to spy on our entire community based on our ethnicity and religion. Today we are a ray of beautiful colors from across New York City standing and marching for justice”

The march stretched for blocks along Central Park and Arab and Muslim groups were well represented among the protesters and activists present. Before the march, members of a Pakistani community organization handed out posters to our group that read, “Muslim’s against Stop-and Frisk” After the march, Muslim groups came together and held a Jummah inside Central Park where they prayed for those who had been affected by the Stop-and-Frisk policy. AAANY marched alongside a number of different faith groups and organizations that all came out to express their opposition to the Stop-and Frisk policy.

The current Stop-and-Frisk policy directly affects members of the Arab American community and the June 17th march was a way for AAANY to engage in activism and join with other New Yorkers to demand an end the racist policy.

See Video From The March: Silent March

See Pictures from the March:

-Katherine Kusiak Carey
May 21, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

It's My Park Clean Up

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The Arab American Association of New York brought out over 50 volunteers as part of the national Arab American service day. On Saturday, May 19th we collaborated with the Shore Rd. Parks Conservancy on their "It's my park day"It was a great opportunity to build community with other groups such as the Moroccan American House Association, and the First Church of the Brethren. Together we raked leaves, picked up trash, repainted benches, and enjoyed a beautiful Saturday outside. We are happy to provide substantive volunteer efforts and are particularly excited about upcoming  volunteer opportunities related to the upcoming electoral campaign. Thank you to everyone who came out to last week's park clean up. See pictures from Saturday here!      

AAANY'S 5th Annual Mother's Day Celebration

Happy Mother’s Day! Last Saturday, May 12th, AAANY held its annual Mother’s Day celebration at the Orion Palace in Brooklyn. The event was organized by the Arab American Women's Committee.  This was the 5th year AAANY has hosted a Mother’s Day event, and according to Vice President of the Arab American Women's Committee,  Zeinab Bader, it was one of the most successful so far. The celebration took place Sunday night and featured music, dancing, a fully catered meal, and Mother’s Day themed prizes.

AAANY’s Mother’s Day event has become so popular that tickets for this year’s celebration sold out in early April. Over 250 women attended the event, some with their daughters, (no men were invited to join in the evening’s festivities). One attendee called the night “extravagant” and spoke of the elaborate food, decorations, and women dressed in their finest. Bader said she started the event five years ago to encourage respect and appreciation for mothers. She also noted that the event was run entirely by women, from the caterers and servers, to the DJ- DJ Shahenaz.

One of the highlights of the night was a singing competition in which women from Morocco, Syria, and Palestine took the stage and preformed. The singing competition was followed by hours of dancing. A few lucky raffle winners went home with perfumes, a new TV, groceries, and much more. Every mother received a Mother’s Day mug as a gift. Special thanks to Leilia Farhat and Virgina Tang for organizing the prizes and give-a-ways.

The night was a much deserved time for women and mothers to relax and celebrate. It was also a moment to appreciate the importance of  mothers recognize all that they do.
May 7, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

AAANY Youth Dinner: Teenagers from Diverse Backgrounds Discuss Practicing Safe Lifestyles

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The Arab American Association of New York hosted a Youth Dinner this past Thursday, April 28th where teens came together to discuss issues they face in high school. Thirty Arab-American high school students from the Bay Ridge area joined Project SAFE, an organization that utilizes peer-to-peer training for youth between the ages of 14 and 19 to provide life-saving information. Through workshops, performances, and community outreach, Project SAFE initiates dialogue between teenagers about sex, drugs, and alcohol. When I got to AAANY I saw all my girls and was so glad that they were there and that I was not alone. The kids from Project SAFE were mostly Latino and Black and came from different backgrounds than me. In all honesty, I thought they wouldn’t understand the rules and challenges my friends and I face as first generation Arab-Americans. Boy was I wrong, not only did they get where I was coming from, but they also experienced similar cultural expectations.

To begin the event, we had an icebreaker to kill the awkwardness and get to know one another. Then, we broke up into two different groups, boys and girls, in order to discuss topics that were more relatable to each group. What I enjoyed the most from the event was the role-playing activity. The activity began with trained actors who acted out situations teens face with peer pressure to drugs, sex, and alcohol. The actors then asked if any of us girls wanted to act out a scene. We would either be the “presureer” or the “presuree," and would finish the scene based on how we would react to a situation involving peer pressure.

We also spoke about culture expectations and the fact that women are not treated the same as men, which I call a double standard. The group asked if us Arab-American girls would act out an example of this, so I volunteered to play the role of a father and my friend decided to act as the teenage daughter. The situation was that the father isn’t happy about his daughter coming home late. While her brother can be out until the sun comes out, if she’s home at 11:30pm it’s as if the world is ending. The father (me) said what any normal Arab father would say, “he is a man, he can do what he wants.” I really think the role-playing is what got the ladies from Project SAFE to ask us more about our culture. And I learned that our cultures are really not so different.

I think events like this are very important. In the end, not only was that night informative, interesting, and delicious, but, it really opened my eyes and let me know that there are other girls out there who also go through the same situations and problems as me. The best part is that they weren’t Arab or Muslim, so it made an even bigger mark on me personally to know that we share many similar experiences. I feel like it is organizations like Project SAFE that help make me less skeptical and more hopeful for the future of teens in America.

-Naema Hegazy, Senior at Fort Hamilton
April 23, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

AAANY’s English Students Step Out On The Town

If you walked into the Capitol One Bank on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge this past Thursday, you may have seen the women of AAANY’s English program participating in our first ever financial literacy workshop!

A group of about 25 students met at AAANY and walked across the street to Capitol One to attend a lecture and demonstration given by the bank’s Branch Manager, Aneta Dowlatram. Ms. Dowlatram gave up her morning to do a presentation on the different services offered at the bank and give a tour of the bank’s safety deposit boxes. Each student received a folder with literature about Capitol One’s services as well as example deposit slips and savings account forms. The trip ended with several group practice sessions at Capitol One’s ATM machines.

For the past month, AAANY students learned about all aspects of the banking system. The classes covered a wide range of terms, skills and topics, ranging from writing checks to debating the finer points of Islamic Law and its analysis of interest (all in English of course). AAANY’s Adult Education Coordinator, Katie McCulloch, worked with the other volunteer teachers, Amida Alessandrini, Loren Diesi, and Megan Tribble, in order to make sure that students in each level of English received a solid foundation of bank vocabulary that they could put into practice in their everyday lives. Students did numerous conversation drills, a variety of readings, and even made individual presentations in front of their classmates about specific banking concepts. Before the big outing, Katie brought all of the classes together for a large group discussion so the more advanced students could help the beginner students practice conversations.

AAANY’s students arrived at the bank Thursday morning having previously addressed a number of important subjects, including how to teach a child about handling money responsibly, how to open a college savings account and how to wire transfer money to one’s family in another country, and so were well prepared to ask many questions of Ms. Dowlatram.

But by far the highlight of the day was the ATM lesson. Using a loud, beeping machine in a language that is not your first can be intimidating, especially because of the stress that any money transaction involves. But by the end of the trip, students were able to navigate through the most important functions of the machine. The donut breakfast everyone shared afterwards wasn’t too bad, either. This next week’s lesson plan is inspired by the ATM excitement; we are going to conquer the subway system and the metro card machines!

-Megan Tribble
April 12, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Activists Unite Around Talent Show

The Arab American Association of New York’s first talent show, “Arab American’s Got Talent” on April 4, 2012, had several accomplishments: from empowering aspiring local talent, to building our community base, to teaching event planning to our youth, to unifying the Arab American voice. For me however, one in particular stood out above all: cultivating activism.

As we community organize with the youth around several different issues, we quite frequently run into the problem that our community members just don’t seem to care enough to take action. While the reasons can vary from complacence and apathy to the fear that increased political activity will draw unwanted attention from the law enforcement,  getting people involved to make positive change is an enormous challenge.

While many of the 400 attendees may have come out for no reason other than it was a chance to see YouTube Phenomenon Fousey Tube, the performances actually included powerful messages inciting people to care: from  a song about change by third place winner, Ibrahim, a spoken word performances from our own Sarah Yang, a song by the winner Omnia about the challenges faced by young women in the Arab community, to activist Sami Fanik who rapped "Power to the Peaceful."

To top it off, Omar Offendum, with his west coast Syrian swag took the stage by a storm, bringing the audience to their feet, pulling out a popular chant from the Arab revolutions, "El Sha'ab Yureed Iskat el nezam!" (The people demand the fall of the regime).

East Coast meets West Coast. The beaming smiles of Omar Offendum and Linda Sarsour sum up the potential of activism within the Arab American community that circulated around this event through the medium of performance art. As Youth Program Manager, I can proudly say that just from the event we have injected a new life into keeping this community involved, and reached out to new members who want to make a change.  

- Christophe Jospe
March 27, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Lutheran HealthCare 2nd Annual Arab American Health Symposium Draws Large Crowds

The 2nd Annual Arab American Health Symposium, which was held on March 16 at the Bay Ridge Manor, was a smashing success! with 270 participants and speakers including Salman Azhar, M.D., director, Stroke Center,Chief, Rehabilitation Services, and Robert Zaloom, M.D., director, the May Ellen and Gerald Ritter Cardiology Center, the event served as an educational opportunity for community members. The Arab American Association of NY is proud to be a partner with Lutheran HealthCare along with, The Arab-American Family Support Center, the Arab American Muslim Federation, AMBER, The Egyptian American Community Foundation, the Moroccan American House Association, and the Yemeni American Association of Bay Ridge.

We were happy to provide free babysitting services while the event was going on.