Understanding identities for deeper connections

“I am from Lahore, Pakistan; Lucknow, India; and Jacksonville, Florida. I am from Awadhi cuisine of the Nawabs to bologna sandwiches and mint jelly.”

~ Sameen Piracha

Linda Samarah and Sameen Piracha

For many of us, the opportunity to learn more deeply about the experiences of people who are different from ourselves isn’t all that common. For the WKKF Community Leadership Network fellows, this fellowship has been an opportunity to connect across identities, honor each person’s humanity and grow in understanding of the world.

During the virtual fellows gathering in April, Isra Bel-Beshir, associate director of Museums at Washington and Lee University, shared about the historical context and present day experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans.

In her presentation, Isra explored the vast nuances among Arab and Muslim people and unpacked how race, ethnicity and religion have shaped Arab and Muslim American’s identies and experiences in the U.S.

From how Arab and Muslim people identify amongst one another to how racialized systems like the census, portrayals in the media and the political climate, there are compounding factors that politicize Arab and Muslim people and influence how each individual identifies and is treated in their communities.

This dive into Arab and Muslim identities was deepened through beautiful poetry by fellows Linda Samarah and Sameen Piracha about their heritage. Together, their stories wove together a complex story about love, pain, identity and self.

Watch them recite their poetry and become inspired to learn more about cultures and experiences different from your own.

Linda Samarah

Sameen Piracha

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WKKF Community Leadership Network