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