The State of Black Art and Life: A Conversation with Photographer Iris Dawn Parker
By Stephanie Shonekan, Contributing Editor, Art, Music, & Pop Culture
Throughout the month of November, the Praxis Center website is featuring the stunning photography of Iris Dawn Parker. An African American whose lens has been focused on the everyday lives of Black folk across the Diaspora, Parker has done more than just take the shots. She has embedded herself in the experiences of the people she cares most about, living in cities and townships, mentoring and engaging young Africans and African Americans to dig deeply into their identities to find the treasures that are essential to building self worth and collective freedom. Armed with the trappings of formal education—she has an MFA from Ohio University—and years of experience as a practicing artist, Parker is uniquely positioned to capture the evolving landscape of Black life. From her upbringing in North Carolina to her current life in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has documented many facets of Black life, including Zulu weddings, Mouride Muslims, South African musicians, and everyday life in a South African township. She was even able to photograph Nelson Mandela a few weeks before he passed away. In this interview, I had the chance to ask Iris about what drives her as an artist and as a human being. Continue reading →
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Rasmea Odeh: Guilty verdict for Palestinian activist doesn’t mean battle for justice is over
By Dima Khalidi | This article originally appeared on The Hill
Rasmea Odeh is a sixty-seven year old Palestinian-American feminist, activist, educator and community leader who served as the associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago since 2004. For over a decade, Rasmea built unprecedented community support for close to 600 Arab immigrant women; established community-wide education projects for Arab immigrant women; and received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance in 2013. Earlier this year, on October 22, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea in her home for alleged immigration fraud. Many believe that her arrest is part of an ongoing witch-hunt that targets Arabs and Muslims who criticize U.S. and Israeli policy and labels them as “terrorists” because Rasmea has been demanding justice for Palestinians for most of her life. She, herself, spent time as a political prisoner in Israeli jails in the 1970’s where she was violently tortured and humiliated– despite the international legal prohibition on torture and ill-treatment.
Dima Khalidi, director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, discusses the ramifications of Rasmeah Odeh’s recent guilty verdict in a four-day trial. Continue reading →
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Locked Down, Locked Out: An Interview with Maya Schenwar
By Alice Kim, Editor
“Prison is built on a logic of isolation and disconnection,” Maya Schenwar writes in her new book Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better. Deftly weaving her own personal experiences with her sister’s incarceration alongside the stories of prisoners who she has been writing to over the last eight years, Schenwar illustrates the devastating effects of prisons on those who are incarcerated, their families, and our communities. With her book, she not only offers a searing analysis of the prison industrial complex but also possibilities for creating alternatives to mass incarceration.
I asked the author about her own transformation as a journalist, activist and sister and what it means to be a prison abolitionist.
In the beginning of your book, you describe how you felt when your sister had been arrested for the seventh time in six years: “Sort of hoping she’ll stay there,” you wrote. You say that you questioned how you could reconcile your staunch opposition to the prison-industrial complex with your desire to see your own sister locked up, a desire that was born out of desperation. Can you talk more about this contradiction and how these tensions manifested in your activist work, your family, and your relationship with your sister?
One of the things I discovered when this all came up with my sister was that there’s a trap set for anyone who has an addiction and doesn’t necessarily want to get better right away. Continue reading →
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