Be the Cause

Minority Dreams write up on Art for Peace Event

Local Event Promotes Art for Peace, Educates Communities

Mar.15, 2009 in Education, Lifestyle

altThe intensity of truth emanating from spoken word combined with artistic expressions and real stories illuminated a warehouse sitting in a corner of Inglewood into a sight of inspiration last week.

Held at Chuco’s Justice Center with a universal goal of raising awareness about the crisis in Gaza, speakers from various humanitarian organizations arrived at “Compassion and Expression: Art for Peace” on March 7 to educate and encourage positive action.

“We all have the power to make effective change. Peace begins with me,” said Laura Ava Tesimale, a speaker from the One Global Family Project, a pilot project under Manav Sadhna.

The group provides aid to struggling local organizations around the world that provide services to  needy and marginalized communities.

Tesimale traveled extensively to African and South Asian countries with her daughter, who witnessed and questioned the attacks on the World Trade Center at the age of 11. The trips have allowed both mom and daughter, now 18, to understand and appreciate different cultures.

alt“There’s so much negativity about Pakistan, I wanted her to see for her own self how great these people are,” the elder Tesimale said. “I wanted to not only touch the hearts of the children there but start it with my own daughter’s heart.”

Islamic Relief, an international relief organization, was also present hoping to raise awareness of crises around the world.

“My goal tonight was to share more information about the humanitarian crisis [in Gaza] and how great the need is, what kind of suffering the people are still going through and to not forget them even though the issue might no be in the news right now,” said Communications Manager Mostafa Mahboob.

He emphasized that people in the midst of deeply controversial issues are still humans in desperate need and the rest of society should help.alt

Speeches were followed by art activities, spoken word and music played by DJ nPrevail.

Activist Vivien Sansour recited poems of war and personal struggles as attendants made cards to send to Israel or Gaza. Several voiced their thoughts through video messages, that would be sent overseas, to show solidarity with those in war prone nations.

Tasneem Noor, 25, of Culver City created a small card with the words, Love with Faith.

“For me, faith is where my hope comes from,” she said. “If whoever receives [this card] smiles [and] if it strengthens their faith even a tiny bit, it’ll be worth it.”

Local artists Mark Gonzales, Omar Offendum and Skim stirred emotions with songs of humanity –  questioning war, consumerism and personal identity. Their words danced to the beats of hip hop and R&B.

altGonzales attends several community-building events but also aims to create understanding by approaching hostile communities.

“It would be hypocritical of me as a grandchild of immigrants to not support other people, [from] those in Gaza [to] the women in Watts, [LA],” he said before his anticipated performance.

This evening of self expression and education was hosted by Be the Cause, a not-for-profit service organization based on the dedicated work of volunteers.

“[We encourage] being the change you wish to see in the world,” said Organizer Kristeen Singh, 30. “We were able to create an event raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and let people know what organizations are doing and how we can help.”

The event’s art activities, from writing poems to painting, all had a common goal of creating a message that lived on long after that evening. A message the organizers hoped would lead to understanding and dialogue.


altCredit: Urmi Rahman, a freelance journalist residing in California. She received her B.A. in political science with minors in English and journalism from Cal State Fullerton. Urmi, 25, is also the editor and co-founder of Minority Dreams Magazine.