Rashidah Abubakr / Susan Abulhawa / Dana Dajani / Sohail Daulatzai / Chris Emdin / Amy Goodman / Mohsin Hamid / Su’ad Abdul Khabeer / Nzinga Knight / Michael Muhammad Knight / Youssef Kromah / Justin Mashouf / Bushra Rehman / Himanshu Suri (Heems) / Sahar Ullah
Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr is a poet, playwright, essayist and short story writer. Her life has taken her from the Benin port city of Cotonou to the artistic hub of New York’s Lower East Side in the 1960s. Although retired from academia, she still works diligently as a writer and supporter of African and African diasporic artistic expression. She is widely anthologized and has four collections of poems and was a part of the Black Arts Movement of the 60’s in New York where she resides. Her home, Salon d’Afrique is a meeting place of art and culture that focuses on African heritage but is inclusive of other peoples and their art.
Susan Abulhawa was born to refugees of the 1967 Six-Day War. She moved to the United States as a teenager, where she got a graduate degree in biomedical science from the University of South Carolina and established a successful career in medical science. Author of My Voice Sought the Wind, she is from Jerusalem and currently lives in Pennsylvania. Her first novel, Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury 2010) was an international bestseller translated into 32 languages. She is a contributor to several anthologies, including Searching Jenin (Cune Press 2003), and Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home (Interlink 2013). Her political commentary has appeared in major press throughout the United States and international media outlets, including the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Al Jazeera, among others. In 2001, she founded Playgrounds for Palestine, an NGO that builds playgrounds in occupied territories and UN refugee camps to uphold the Right to Play for Palestinian children.
Dana Dajani is an award-winning Palestinian actor and writer. She received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago, and began her professional acting career on the city’s stages. On stage, Dana wrote and starred in Kalubela, winner of Time Out Dubai’s award for Best Theatrical Performance of 2012. Her short films have been in film festivals across the Middle East, garnering awards such as Best Actress in Tropfest 2011 and Best Film at the Arab Film Studio Competition 2013. Additionally, Dana is a published author and poet and can often be spotted performing her spoken-word poetry in a musical collaboration called Floetics. A freestyle riff on rhythm and rhyme, Floetics have performed at many premier music venues and festivals in Dubai such as SIKKA Art Fair, The Music Room, Jazz@Pizza Express, FORTOM- First Ladies (For The Love of Music), Dubai Yoga & Music Festival, Freshly Ground Sounds, and DIFC Art Night. Independently, Dana has recently collaborated with Dubai-based cellist and producer, Aaron Kim, to create an EP which fuses electronic sounds and poetry.
Sohail Daulatzai works at the intersection of art, politics, and culture. He is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America and co-editor of Born to Use Mics, a literary remix of Nas’s album Illmatic. He is the curator of the exhibit Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, and editor of the limited edition, companion commemorative book of the same name, which includes an interview with Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), essays by Chuck D and Sohail Daulatzai, the work of Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Paniccioli, and others, as well as album cover art, photography, flyers and other ephemera. He has written liner notes for the 2012 release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, the liner notes for the DVD release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and the centerpiece in the museum catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980’s – Now, and his other writings have appeared in The Nation, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, and Souls, amongst others. He is the founder of Groundings, a conversation series that has included Immortal Technique, Chuck D, Rosa Clemente, dream hampton, Robin D.G. Kelley and Jasiri X. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine.
Chris Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University; where he also serves as Director of Science Education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education. He is currently a Caperton Fellow and Hip-Hop Archive Fellow at the WEB DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Dr. Emdin is a social critic, public intellectual and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Dr. Emdin holds a Ph.D in Urban Education with a concentration in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; Masters degrees in both Natural Sciences and Education Administration, and Bachelors degrees in Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry. He is the co creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, and a much sought-after public speaker on a number of topics that include hip-hop education, STEM education, politics, race, class, diversity, and youth empowerment. He is also author of the award winning book, Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation.
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,300 public television and radio stations worldwide. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its “Pick of the Podcasts,” along with NBC’s Meet the Press. Goodman’s fifth book, The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope, written with Denis Moynihan, rose to #11 on The New York Times bestseller list. This timely follow-up to her fourth New York Timesbestseller, Breaking the Sound Barrier, gives voice to the many ordinary people standing up to corporate and government power. Goodman has received the American Women in Radio and Television Gracie Award; the Paley Center for Media’s She’s Made It Award; and the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Goodman received the first ever Communication for Peace Award from the World Association for Christian Communication. She was also honored by the National Council of Teachers of English with the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language.
Mohsin Hamid is the author of three novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations. His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thirty-five languages. His novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” was shortlisted for the 2007 Booker Prize, England’s highest honor for works of fiction. The Guardian selected it as one of the books that defined the decade. An adaptation of the book directed by Mira Nair premiered in 2012 to critical acclaim.
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is an activist-scholar-artist whose work explores the intersection of race, religion, and popular culture. Currently, Su’ad is assistant professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Purdue University. She received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Princeton University and her BSFS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. In her research she uses ethnography and performance art to explore the intersection of race, religion and popular culture. Her most recent work explores the ways young Chicago Muslims negotiate their religious, racial and cultural identities through hip hop. She was also a Senior Project Advisor for the US Public Television award-winning documentary, New Muslim Cool. Her future projects will look at the relationship between sound, blackness and Islam in America and the role of Muslim hip hop in US cultural diplomacy efforts. In addition to her academic writing and publications, her poetry was featured in the anthology Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak. She has a commitment to public scholarship and has written for the Washington Post, theRoot.com and blogs for the Huffington Post.
Nzinga Knight is a native New York fashion designer whose line of high-end evening wear and sportswear offers a sense of mystery, elegance and innovation. As a young woman growing up in New York City in a family of seven vibrant Caribbean women great fashion was paramount; growing up in a family with Islamic values, coverage was also important. Nzinga struggled to create synergy with both her cultural and cosmopolitan values and the modest principle. The demand for clothing that was at once modest and fashionable was not reflected in the fashion world. With a mission to create cutting edge modest fashion that allows freedom of movement for the cosmopolitan woman, Nzinga studied fashion design and fine arts at the prestigious Pratt Institute School of Design in New York City, where she received a BFA in Fashion Design in 2005 as well as a CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) award for achievements in design. She’s been widely acclaimed for her work, and even starred on Project Runway’s 13th Season!
Michael Muhammad Knight
Michael Muhammad Knight is an American novelist, essayist, and journalist. He is the author of 9 books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel, The Taqwacores; a hajj narrative, Journey to the End of Islam; his conversion narrative, Impossible Man; a travelogue through Muslim America, Blue-Eyed Devil; and his most recent work, Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing. His work has been adapted into film, taught in courses at numerous colleges and universities, and translated in several languages. He received his Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree from Harvard and is presently a PhD student in Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Youssef Kromah graduated from La Salle University with a degree in English Language and Literature and currently serves as the Creative Director for La Salle’s Writers Matter Program. He is a writer, performer, poet, and motivational speaker who has shared the stage with some well renowned talents including Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Eve, Wale and Fonzworth Bentley. After being introduced to spoken word in high school, Youssef went on to to feature in HBO’s Brave New Voices, author his first book of poetry titled, A Gathering of Myself, produced his first EP “The Other Friqi” and place in national slam poetry contests.
Justin Mashouf is a three-time Emmy award winning filmmaker and artist living in Los Angeles, he received his BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona in 2008. Justin’s most recent documentary Warring Factions follows him to Iran where he meets a group of young Iranian break dancers for an impromptu bboy battle. Justin’s work deals with the blurring of borders and his unique interactions within the Muslim world. He is currently working on a film about the US prison system and performs and speaks about his adventures around the nation.
Bushra Rehman grew up in Corona, Queens, but her mother says she was born in an ambulance flying through the streets of Brooklyn. Her father is not so sure, but it would explain a few things. Bushra was a vagabond poet who traveled for years with nothing more than a greyhound ticket and a bookbag full of poems. She co-edited Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism which was included inMs. Magazine’s “100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time.” Bushra’s work has been featured on BBC Radio 4, WNYC, and KPFA and in the New York Times, India Currents, The Feminist Wire, Sepia Mutiny, Color Lines, Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America, and in numerous anthologies. Bushra’s first novel Corona was just released in August and noted by Poets & Writers as one of this summer’s Best Debut novels.
Himanshu Kumar Suri (aka Heems)
Himanshu Suri graduated from Wesleyan University and began working in the financial sector until he found success in the group Das Racist. Suri is also the founder of Greedhead Music, an independent record label. In 2012, Suri released his first solo mixtape, Nehru Jackets, on his Greedhead imprint and in conjunction with SEVA NY. Suri has been a vocal advocate of the South Asian community in New York. In January 2012, Suri joined the board of directors of the Queens-based community organization SEVA. Suri has also written about music and all things South Asian for the Village Voice, Death and Taxes magazine, Fuse, Stereogum, and Alternet.
Sahar Ullah is a PhD Candidate in Arabic and Comparative Literature from the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Her interests include post-classical Arabic poetics as well as representations of Muslims in early modern European literature and theater. Sahar completed her BA at the University of Miami majoring in English Literature, Religious Studies and Political Science. She completed her MA at the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies and then studied Arabic and Islamic Studies in Cairo for two years as a CASA Fellow.
Sahar is also the co-Founder and Creative Director of the Hijabi Monologues theater project and a script consultant for its international sister-productions, including Hijabi Monologues Ireland and Hijabi Monologues Indonesia. Through local story contests and workshops, selected local stories are weaved into the core set of Hijabi Monologues, giving shows a local touch. The Hijabi Monologues has been staged for thousands at universities, community centers, and theaters including the John F. Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in DC, Ottawa Arts Court and the Peacock Theatre in Dublin.