Political images of the American Desi Diaspora. From political posters, to album covers, to t-shirts, to graffiti to stencils to concert posters, to conference posters - I will try to tumble images all things politically Desi. Contributions welcome!
I was driving past a business here in the Houston Heights, when I glimpsed this painted on the side of the building. I recognized that iconic WWII poster before I realized it was not just any woman, but 14 year old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was attacked for wanting an education. The words next to her are her quote, ( “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school.) All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one.”
On April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,129 garment workers and injuring 2,515 more. I was upset and reached out to fellow Bengali musician Brooklyn Shanti - we had to do something. Within hours we had a concept, and within days we had a project. On June 18, 2013, Mishthi Music presented a 26 song Beats for Bangladesh: A Benefit Album in Solidarity with the Garment Workers of Rana Plaza with tracks donated by almost all Desi-American artists. In the past year, the album was able to raise awareness with over 12,000 plays of our title track and thousands of dollars raised through downloaded sales of the album. Thanks to your generous support, the funds went directly to theBangladeshi Center for Worker Solidarity, an organization on the ground and directly supporting the orphans of the building collapse.
It has been one year since the release of Beats for Bangladesh and the team has released a track to commemorate the one year anniversary. Written and performed by me (Tanzila Ahmed) and produced by Brooklyn Shanti, the poetry track 'Cut From the Same Cloth' is piece talking about the connections between garment workers in Bangladesh and here in the U.S. Though a free download, any payment made will be a direct donation going to the on-the-ground organization Bangladeshi Center for Worker Solidarity through the Washington DC based 501c3 organization International Labor Rights Forum.
Though initially a music project, the Beats for Bangladesh album has been a gateway to talk about the tragedy and the subsequent global issues through multiple types of campaigns and multiple types of projects. The past year has been an interesting and eventful year of culture shifting with arts activism and moving people with music.
Don’t you love it when your favorite band has stickers you can throw on your gear and tell the world how much you love them? Well, we aren’t a band. But we do have some sweet, sweet,Mishthi Musicstickers for you!
If you want a short stack of these limited edition, swaggy stickers, send us an email to mishthimusic [at] gmail.com with your mailing address and an answer to the following question, "Who is your favorite Mishthi Music artist and why?"
We can only send one stack per household, so don’t be sneaky. And make your answer good.
Rad Bay Area artists Amman Desai and Nisha Sembi teamed up to explore the history of Anti-hegemonic South Asian dissent in Berkeley in an exhibition called ¨OUR NAME IS REBEL,” and boi have I found my home! As a queer cis-male middle class South Asian invested in dismantling systems of oppression myself, these images inspired me to see my people in a radical new frame. I read them against the myth of the model minority (one that basically advocates for acceptance of systems of oppression in order to get ahead i.e. pursuing “safe” career paths, not protesting etc.). This path, usually taken by upper middle class South Asians who buy into this idea of “achieving financial success through complicity with white supremacy”, often perpetuates anti-black racism, and within many Hindu contexts, Islamophobia in our post 9/11 moment to more successfully assimilate into “the right kind of brown”. In contrast, “OUR NAME IS REBEL” focuses on the anti-colonial Ghadar Party and South Asian women activists who protested Indira Ghandi’s suspension of democracy, highlighting histories that are rarely taught and life-paths rarely supported. By valorizing rebels, Sembi and Desai’s art presents us with a radically alternative way of identifying as South Asian- one that does not assume repressive patriarchy or class ascendancy
One important part of this alt approach to South Asian diaspora is the idea of solidarity across social movements. Sembi and Desai move their pieces beyond the arena of single-issue politics by depicting connections between South Asian women to the Black Panther Party in the 70′s (such as Kartar Dhillon, one of the few women Ghadar Party members who was a trailblazing activist and alternative role model, depicted by artist Amman Desai as the Hindu saint Meerabai) when dominant narratives usually show South Asian women as powerless pawns frozen into a patriarchal amber. The historical record of these women’s participation in social movements outside the confines of their own identity politics is a powerful reminder of Audre Lorde’s essay entitled, “There is No Hierarchy of Oppression”. Make no mistake, I’m totes NOT advocating for South Asians to coopt black struggles as their own (seriously, check yourself). What I AM saying is that systems of oppression are interconnected. Dismantling them in one area won’t work if we are perpetuating them in another. To that end, this exhibit opens worlds of possibility.
While both of us were studying at University, we came across this post by Dora Dalila,which inspired us to think about how our own friendship stretches across two faiths.
Centuries of tension have existed between Muslims and Sikhs; whether we look at Mughal history, 20thCentury partition or even modern day media headlines, there seems to be a constant fuel added to the fire between both of our religious communities.
Throughout University we both started to look deeper into our own faiths and had endless discussions with each other about God, religion etc. Through this dialogue we learnt how our faiths are clearly unique but also how they share numerous similarities too.
We don’t agree on everything, but our mutual respect for each other’s opinion proves the possibility of sharing a strong bond with someone who holds different beliefs. It also taught us the importance of a fresh perspective on what religion and spirituality really is.
Remember: We are not undermining or dismissing the shared history of bloodshed between Sikhs and Muslims. But its important we do not let this history prevent a healthy dialogue between both of our communities. This will allow us to tackle existing issues much better than if we are constantly working against each-other, fuelling hatred and racism.
We hope you enjoy this little photo-set that shows that we may do things differently, but ultimately we’re the same.
It will be held in NYC, August 8-10 for youth 15-21 years old. Deadline is May 31. Please share this post with your friends, organizations, schools, student clubs, and fellow organizers and activists!
East Coast Solidarity Summer (ECSS) is a weekend-long leadership and empowerment program for youth of South Asian and Desi heritage who are passionate about social justice.
ECSS provides a radical and inclusive space for youth of South Asian/Desi heritage (including those of mixed heritage) to examine key social justice issues and take action! Past workshops have included topics such as identity, immigration, sexism, racism, mental health, and capitalism. The goal of the retreat is to engage participants in critical reflection, coalition building, activism, and organizing. We believe that a united, educated, and inspired collective of young activists and organizers is crucial to creating social change both locally and globally.
This messaging exoticizes and objectifies Maks, and goes further to sexualize this industry that is riddled with death traps. And all because American Apparel wants us to buy their clothes.
But I’m not buying it. And neither should you.
Instead, with help from 18MR, I’m demanding that American Apparel executives have a sit-down meeting with South Asian women activists, and for the company to donate to the International Labor Rights Forum (a group that supports and funds the Bangladeshi Center for for Worker Solidarity).
If American Apparel wants to run a marketing campaign that profits from the dangers posed to workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry, the least they can do is donate money to help those same victims. Please join me and 18MR to make this happen.
PLEASE SHARE & BOOST — First priority applications for the lifechanging Bay Area Solidarity Summer’s South Asian youth social justice program are due by Mar 31! The camp for 15-21 year olds runs Aug 7-11. BASS is a place to share ideas, learn how to lead real campaigns for change, find mentors, and be inspired.
Got questions about this lifechanging program? Want to talk to organizers or alumni? Leave a comment below, message us via Facebook, or email us at email@example.com. A limited amount of scholarships are available!
Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR) is a weekend summer leadership retreat for youth ages 15-21 who trace their heritage to South Asia and the diaspora and who identify themselves as change-makers. We welcome adoptees, desis of mixed heritage, any immigration status, and all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two spirit and intersex(LGBTQTSIS) youth.