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Which Minorities Should YOU Be Persecuting In 2019?

Don't feel you have to limit your targets of discrimination just to the minorities listed — get creative! Depending on your location, many other outgroups may be available to harass or persecute!
Don't feel you have to limit your targets of discrimination just to the minorities listed — get creative! Depending on your location, many other outgroups may be available to harass or persecute!

Read Our Handy Guide To Find Out!

Satire by Corporate Christ, GUEST COLUMNIST

Are Lesbians moving into your community? Does the thought of Chinese children playing with your children frighten you? There are so many people to hate nowadays it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Read our handy article to make your own decision and you too can begin to make sense of your petty prejudices.

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Will Call Episode #55.4, BONUS: Tom Coash on “Raghead” at BSC for 10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival

Veils Barrington Stage Company 2015 Photos by Kevin Sprague By Tom Coash Directed by Leah C. GardineCast:
Veils Barrington Stage Company 2015 Photos by Kevin Sprague By Tom Coash Directed by Leah C. GardineCast: Hend Ayoub – Samar Donnetta Lavinia Grays -Initsar Creative Team: Leah C. Gardiner – Director Becky Abramowitz – Directing Assistant Arnulfo Maldonado – Scenic/Costume Designer Michael Chybowski – Lighting Designer Matt Sherwin – Sound Designer/Original Music C. Andrew Bauer – Projection Designer Renee Lutz – Production Stage Manager Matthew Luppino – Assistant Stage Manager

Hend Ayoub and Donnetta Lavinia Grays in “Veils, written by Tom Coash and directed by Leah C. Gardiner,” at Barrington Stage Company, October 2015; photo by Kevin Sprague
Hend Ayoub and Donnetta Lavinia Grays in “Veils, written by Tom Coash and directed by Leah C. Gardiner,” at Barrington Stage Company, October 2015; photo by Kevin Sprague

Tom Coash’s full-length play, “Veils,” set in Cairo at the beginning of the Arab Spring, played at Barrington Stage in the fall of 2015. He says an experience from “Veils” inspired him to write the shorter work that appears in this year’s 10×10 Festival. He talked with us about both plays and what he has learned in writing them.

Tom Coash, author of “Veils” and “Rag Head”
Tom Coash, author of “Veils” and “Rag Head”

 

 

You should definitely also check out our conversation in Will Call, #18, with playwright Tom Coash and director by Leah C. Gardiner,” from the play’s 2015 run at Barrington Stage Company.

 

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OPINION: Building Bridges

by Sheila Velázquez

About a week after 9/11, I flew from Montana to Boston, a trip that required, as all trips from Bozeman do, a stop at Salt Lake City. The flight from Bozeman was not filled, but the absence of passengers became more apparent in Salt Lake. I had a long time until my next flight and sat in the nearly empty waiting area, reading a book and people-watching. A group of young men sat in the row of seats facing me. There were perhaps seven or eight, well-dressed, maybe students or young businessmen. But the single thing that was painfully noticeable about them was that they were Middle Eastern. I say painfully because of how this would change their lives from that day forward.

Two security officers were engaged in an animated conversation by the trash receptacle, and so I crumpled my burger wrapper and walked over to see what the commotion might be. One said, “But we have to let them on. There are no restrictions.” And there weren’t. No one was being searched, checked or otherwise treated any differently because of the language they spoke or their likely religion. No shoes in baskets or x-ray machines. No confiscated knitting needles. That would come. I walked back and glanced at the young men. They were very quiet, barely whispering in Arabic.

A man was arguing with the woman at the ticket counter. His mother was refusing to board the flight if “those people” would be on it. She was demanding that they not be allowed to fly so that she would be safe. But she was the one who did not board the plane.

Another man approached the group and began sputtering that he wasn’t blaming their people for the attack on the Twin Towers. Did he even understand who their people were? He was sweating and looking very uncomfortable as he groveled before them in an attempt to buddy up to them. It was obvious that he wasn’t so sure that this group wasn’t planning to terrorize their fellow passengers, and he wanted to be on their side if they did. He was pathetic. The young men did not answer him.

As the time of departure drew closer, more people showed up, and after observing their fellow passengers, only a few chose to stay. We boarded on time, maybe twenty of us in addition to the young men scattered about in the seats of the big plane. Anyone who wanted to could put up the armrests and stretch out and take a nap, which I did.

I am not saying that the idea that they might be part of some larger attack did not cross my mind. It did. I had watched the second towers fall in real time just days ago. I was trying to understand how there could be such hate that could lead to such tragedy.

Just a few years earlier I had stood at the top of one of the towers with a group of Muslim men who were visiting the university where I worked. They were Middle Easterners visiting the West to learn about the best we have to offer. Unfortunately, their Muslim brothers and sisters are now too often exposed to the worst. While in the program I became friends with a staffer who invited me to a party she and her husband were planning. When I arrived I realized what it was like to be the outsider. Everyone else was both Black and Muslim.

Fear and prejudice are the real enemies. If we allow them to take over, they will block out the will and the energy needed to build the bridges necessary for us to work together toward the nonpartisan goals we all share. A bridge must be strong and properly designed. It must be fashioned of the strongest materials and continually maintained and shored up when a weakness is detected. It must never be allowed to weaken and fail. And if done properly, it can last forever.

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Will Call #54: Standing Together Against Othering in the Berkshires

"Kylie Jenner," by Merudjina Normil; submitted photo.
"Kylie Jenner," by Merudjina Normil; submitted photo.


In the wake of the November election, people across the country have seen fear and anger and exclusion become part of a national public conversation. Many people are sharing the experience of feeling that they do not belong in their familiar places. It’s called othering — making someone feel pushed to the edges, unwanted or different. It can happen in daily meetings and conversations, at work, at school, even at home.

In the Berkshires, movements are growing in response, art and lectures and performances and rallies, to explain what othering means and what it looks like — and to draw people together instead.

"Eyes Opaque With Terror," by Marcelene Mosca and Freya Segal; Mixed Media, 2014; photo by David Edgecomb.
“Eyes Opaque With Terror,” by Marcelene Mosca and Freya Segal; Mixed Media, 2014; photo by David Edgecomb.

People are saying in different ways, I feel threatened. I feel alone. And people are saying that hate is not mine. I want to stand with you. I want to live in a country where we can all live and love and work, pray or not, speak and play music. People are saying we need to talk to each other.

In the Berkshires, efforts are growing to bring people together. In Pittsfield, on a November afternoon, young WordxWord poets and storytellers reflected on how it felt to be excluded or pushed to the edges, as part of “Othering,” a month-long show curated by the Berkshire Art Association at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.

In Great Barrington, Asma Abbas, Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy at Bard College of Simon’s Rock, invited Moustafa Bayoumi, American Book Award–winning  writer and professor of English at Brooklyn College — who wrote one of the most re-tweeted tweets of the 2016 USA presidential debates, according to Twitter—to speak about Muslim American experiences in the last 15 years.

In North Adams, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel, joins Rabbi David Markus, her co-chair of Aleph, the central organization of the international Jewish Renewal movement, in a call for solidarity. If a national effort to register Muslims becomes real, they are calling on all Americans to register.

Nick Cave’s “Until”

One of 16,000 dangling items in MASS MoCA's Rauschenberg gallery that are part of the installation, "<a href="http://massmoca.org/event/nick-cave-until/" target="_blank"><strong>Until</strong></a>," by Nick Cave, on view through August, 2017; photo by Kate Abbott.
One of 16,000 dangling items in MASS MoCA’s Rauschenberg gallery that are part of the installation, “Until,” by Nick Cave, on view through August, 2017; photo by Kate Abbott.

And in December of 2016, MASS MoCA, offered free admission for Berkshire residents until the solstice, as Nick Cave’s installation, Until, opened to take a close look at the ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” — and what happens when it becomes “guilty until proven innocent.”

Soprano Brenda Wimberly and organist Sereca Henderson  perform at the opening of Nick Cave’s ‘Until,’ at MASS MoCA. His installation fills the Rauschenberg gallery, and everyone who walks in stops at the doorway. The room is as large as a football field. And it is full of light.

It’s like walking into an optical mobile. It’s a maze of stars and spirals and suns on 16,000 strings. They spin like tops, and they transform from pinwheeling color to faint lines, until they become invisible. In some of them, at the core, he has set the image of a hand gun.

 

Nick Cave is known for Soundsuits, wearable sculptures that cover the whole body, and he often performs in them. But here he has created something new. It’s a landscape. It’s a cloudscape made of chandelier crystal. It’s a place where he invites other people to perform.

Benjamin Clementine gave a concert on opening night.

 

Nick Cave created this installation holding in mind the lives and deaths of Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith and Michael Brown and more like them. Mass MoCA curator Denise Markonish speaks about his work.

Moustafa Bayoumi and Asma Abas

John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme,’ a jazz classic from 1965 has echoes of Middle Eastern scales in its improvisation, and echoes of Islamic prayer in its inspiration, professor Moustafa Bayoumi writes in his 2015 collection of essays, “This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror.”

Moustafa Bayoumi has explored the concept of Othering in both How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (2009) and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror (2015); photo by Neville Elder, courtesy of Moustafa Bayoumi.
Moustafa Bayoumi has explored the concept of Othering in both How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (2009) and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror (2015); photo by Neville Elder, courtesy of Moustafa Bayoumi.

 

 

Coltrane often performed with Muslim musicians, he says, and anyone with an ear attuned to Islamic influences can hear them in Coltrane’s words and music.
He quotes Coltrane’s liner notes: “No Matter what … it is with God. He is Merciful. His way is in love, through which we all are. It is truly — a love supreme.”
Moustafa Bayoumi is an internationally recognized journalist. He is a columnist for The Guardian; his writing has appeared in journals from the New York Times to the Nation; and he has appeared on CNN, FOX News, National Public Radio and many other media outlets around the world.
He is an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, and in 2008 he won an American Book Award for “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America.”

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Asma Abbas is an Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy and Emily H. Fisher Faculty Fellow at Bard College at Simon's Rock; photo courtesy Asma Abbas.
Asma Abbas is an Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy and
Emily H. Fisher Faculty Fellow at Bard College at Simon’s Rock; photo courtesy Asma Abbas.

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“How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?” takes its title from writer, Civil Rights activist and Great Barrington native, W.E.B. DuBois, who asks that question in Souls of Black Folk.

In his book, Bayoumi tells the stories of seven young men and women in their 20s living in Brooklyn after 9/11.
Rasha and her family were imprisoned without trial and without evidence; Sami served in the military in Iraq; Yasmin fought discrimination in her diverse high school — and won.
In December, professor Bayoumi came to Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington to talk with professor Asma Abbas, and her students and the community, about the experience of being Muslim American in the past, in the last 15 years and today.
Many Americans misunderstand a great deal about what Muslim Americans believe and how they live their lives, he said.

To begin with, Muslim Americans have lived in this country for almost 400 years.

Aleph takes a stand against othering

Rachel Barenblat of Williamstown is the rabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, and she will serve as the interim Jewish Chaplain at Williams College in the spring semester. She is also co-chair of Aleph, the central organization of the international Jewish renewal movement, with David Markus, associate spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El of City Island in the Bronx. He has Berkshire ties as well — like Rachel, he is a Williams College alum. (In full disclosure, I am also a Williams alum, and Rachel is an old friend.)

Jewish Renewal, founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is a movement across Jewish denominations. At its center, Aleph includes a rigorous liberal seminary and a growing network of congregations and communities around the world.

"Arab Women Bonding," by Muriel Angelil; Monoprint, 2014; submitted photo.
“Arab Women Bonding,”
by Muriel Angelil;
Monoprint, 2014; submitted photo.

In response to the U.S. president-elect’s campaign promise to require all Muslims to register with the government, Aleph has sent out a call to all Americans, if that day comes, to register as Muslim in solidarity.

That call comes out of values central to Renewal, Rachel and David say, from a respect for all faiths, and a core Jewish value (Lev. 19:18), to love your neighbor as yourself.

The experience of being treated differently — the ‘Othering’ that David Markus talks about — is also the name of the Berkshire Art Association’s biennial juried show. In November, it filled the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield with abstract paintings, collages and drawings.

The art association sent out a call for work reflecting on experiences of exclusion and separation. More than 30 artists from throughout the Northeast had work in the exhibit — from a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. military who served two tours in Iraq to an African-American Pittsfield High School graduate now studying art at Williams College.

On Nov. 13, the Pittsfield organization WordxWord hosted an afternoon of poetry and storytelling on the same theme — WordxWord uses spoken word, poetry and storytelling to celebrate diversity and creativity and make connections.

"Kylie Jenner," by Merudjina Normil; Drawing, 2014; submitted photo.
“Kylie Jenner,” by Merudjina Normil; Drawing, 2014; submitted photo.

Four of those poets have given us permission to share there work here. We thank Izzy; our second poet, who has asked to remain anonymous; Sage; and Doni Smith.

"This Is Normal: 4th grade," by Dina Noto, Ink Drawing, 2016; submitted photo.
“This Is Normal: 4th grade,” by Dina Noto, Ink Drawing, 2016; submitted photo.

 

Looking Ahead

On Saturday, Jan. 7, on the 76th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, a new Four Freedoms Coalition will invite the Berkshire community to unite against hate and bigotry in all its forms. The Berkshire County branch of the NAACP, BRIDGE, Berkshire Immigrant Center, United Africans of the Berkshires, and the United American Muslim Association of the Berkshires and others will gather for a rally and march in downtown Pittsfield.

The Four Freedoms Coalition is a non-partisan, diverse coalition of community organizations and people working together to unite the community and reaffirm the  American values outlined in President Roosevelt’s speech:

Freedom from fear
Freedom from want
Freedom of speech
Freedom of religion.

All are welcome. To find out more, check out the Four Freedoms Coalition on Facebook or email 4freedomscoalition@gmail.com

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On Jan. 29 at 3 p.m., Doni Smith and WordXWord will welcome the new year with a free poetry reading to celebrate sharing and caring and reflect on the consequences of greed at MCLA’s Gallery 51, at 51 Main St., North Adams.

Nine days after the presidential inauguration, poets and spoken word artists will bear witness to a world where greed appears to have no limits, and yet every day holds moments of generosity and compassion. The event will accompay Josh Ostraff’s exhibition, OFA ATU, which opens Jan. 26.

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Also in Pittsfield, Georgene Poliak has formed All Band Together as an initiative in compassion and solidarity. At the holiday Shindy at Shire City Sanctuary, she showed arm bands with a crescent and a star that she is making out of upcycled t-shirts and sweaters. They recall the bands that Jews in Europe were made to wear under the Nazi occupation. But these mean the opposite — they mean that people of many faiths can stand together.

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And in the spring, new artists will come to Mass MoCA to create and perform work inspired by Nick Cave’s ‘Until.’ Internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones will present a new solo work on March 4.

And choreographer, writer, and actress Okwui Okpokwasili will create and offer a site-specific dance on April 7.

Okwui Okpokwasili “Bronx Gothic” trailer from Peter Born on Vimeo.

Grammy-winnter and living legend Mavis Staples, known worldwide as a voice in R&B, Gospel, Soul, folk, rock and blues, will also perform at Mass MoCA on March 25.

And Toshi Reagon and Dorrance Dance will return to the ’62 Center at Williams College with tap masters Derick Grant and Dromeshia Sumbry-Edwards.

Will Call #18 — Playwright Tom Coash, Director Leah C. Gardiner On “ Veils “

Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Hend Ayoub in "Veils" at Barrington now through October 18; Photos by Kevin Sprague
Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Hend Ayoub in "Veils" at Barrington now through October 18; Photos by Kevin Sprague

Thought-provoking examination of customs and culture, “Veils,” opens this weekend at Barrington Stage Company

Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Hend Ayoub in "Veils" at Barrington Stage Company now through October 18; photo by Kevin Sprague
Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Hend Ayoub in “Veils” at Barrington Stage Company now through October 18; photo by Kevin Sprague

The Greylock Glass spoke at length both with “Veils” author Tom Coash and director Leah C. Gardiner about this contemplative work produced by Barrington Stage Company.

“Veils” is set in 2010, when Intisar, an African American Muslim student, arrives in Cairo for a year abroad, she hopes finally to be understood. She’s quickly enlisted by her exuberant Egyptian roommate, Samar, to help create a blog debating the practice of wearing veils, but when the Arab Spring intervenes, revolution threatens to overtake their friendship.

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