Celebrating Culture and Building Political Power at the 6th Annual Arab American Bazaarlottery numbers
On Sunday July 8th, over 4,000 people flocked to Brooklyn’s Shore Road Park to enjoy a day of live music, food, dancing and celebration at the 6th Annual Bay Ridge Arab American Bazaar. For the past six years, the Arab American Association of New York has hosted a summer festival celebrating Arab culture. This year we had beautiful summer day for our biggest bazaar yet. Click here to see a video of one of the debkeh performances or look through our photo album from the day.
The main stage drew enormous crowds as Bazaar attendees danced to music by local singers representing an array of countries across the Arab world and two debkeh (palestinian folk dance) performances. Food and craft vendors formed the perimeter of the bazaar, allowing people to enjoy the show while receiving a henna tattoo or indulging in a falafel sandwich. In between performances, politicians were given the opportunity to speak to the community, including Congressman Michael Grimm, Senator Marty Golden, Assemblywoman Nicole Maliotakis, City Council members Vincent Gentile, and Leticia James, as well as NYC Comptroller John Liu and Candidate for State Senate Andrew Gounardes.
This year we had an impressive number of volunteers help out at the event. Many of them set up kids activities, painting faces and helping children make paper flags, while others concentrated their efforts towards registering new voters. With the guidance of our voter registration staff, volunteers stressed the importance of giving political voice to the Arab American community. Members of our female empowerment group, Brooklynat were responsible for running our voter registration table, while AAANY’s Street Team interns, Omar Al Khalili and Nora AbuSha’ban worked tirelessly to stress the importance of mobilization. By the end of the day they helped to register over 100 new voters! The bazaar was a great opportunity for us as an organization to reach out to our community and supporters and reiterate the importance of voting .
Undoubtedly, civic engagement was an overarching theme of the day. Along with voter registration, crowds of youth showed up to represent their cultural pride. Two AAANY youth volunteers raised over $700 for Syria in cupcake sales and donations. Read a write-up about their efforts in the Brooklyn Daily. As a community we demonstrated our growing political presence and goal to represent the Arab and Muslim community on both a local and national level. Each year our Bazaar is an opportunity to mobilize and celebrate our community.
***AAANY is working to build community power though voter registration. We hope to register over 1,000 voters by the November elections. In addition to registration, we are striving to provide newly registered voters with the resources to lead them to become more informed voters. If you are a U.S. citizen and would like to register to vote, please stop by the Association to see our voter registration fellows, Aber Kawas and Zayd Sifri. We here at AANY believe that voting is power. It is a way for our community to demand respect, appreciation, and attention which will provide future generations with more opportunities.***