Ceramics Heal during Ramadan

During the soul-soothing days of Ramadan, IMAN’s resident art instructors hosted a special weeklong class called “Illuminations: Fasting & Ceramic Art” inside the Beloved Community Studio. The intimate seminar explored the spiritual benefits of fasting across various spiritual and cultural traditions, while teaching basic ceramics techniques like molding, painting, glazing and positive/negative space.

The ‘Illuminations’ class was led by Mariana Lopez—a healing practitioner and soon-to-be licensed art therapist—and Khalid Partee—the current Green ReEntry instructor who discovered the restorative power of ceramics while incarcerated. They curated a rejuvenating safe space for dozens of residents from some of Chicago’s most vulnerable communities, helping each student tap into their creative potential and produce incredible pieces of art.

In the coming months, we hope to further transform the Ceramic Arts Studio into the first full-time facility of its kind in the larger Marquette Park area. This project is poised to affect over 750 individuals through a multitude of projects, classes and unique workshops. Be sure to follow IMAN on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to check out some of the beautiful artwork coming out of the studio!

Digital Media Masters Complete Summer Term

In the words of the great African novelist Chinua Achebe, “It is the storyteller who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that the survivors must have–otherwise their surviving would have no meaning.”

An unfortunate reality of life in 2015 is that mainstream media companies have a monopoly on storytelling, crippling communities’ ability to form their own narratives and spreading harmful stereotypes. This damage is felt in the community where IMAN operates, where young black and brown men are often assumed to be lifelong criminals. Muslims across the country are profiled and harassed in similar ways.

DMM Summer 15 GradIMAN works to empower local high schoolers through Digital Media Masters (DMM), a 6-week summer intensive where students become agents of change by projecting their own authentic narratives with the long-term goal of using mass media to transform their communities. Through funding from After School Matters, IMAN was not only able pay the teens for their reporting, but also hire a brilliant instructor, Tariq Weaver, to facilitate thought-provoking conversations with these amazing young minds.

One of the most transformative aspects of DMM was the chance for the students to engage with both IMAN’s proven organizing model, and the diverse constituent base of various ethnicities and faith traditions. DMM students participated in programs such as Refresh the ‘Hood, Ramadan Reflections and Fresh Beats & Eats Farmers’ Market.

Valued IMAN allies also stepped in to share wisdom and reporting tips. Enoch Muhammad of Hip Hop Detoxx held a Q&A session, and longtime IMAN supporters Ayesha Kazi and Dr. Emad Rahim gave advice on academic and professional success. At the end of the DMM program, students shared their final projects—ranging from photo essays to video interviews—with parents and IMAN staff. Thanks to all those who played a part in making this summer special, and stay on the lookout for articles from the DMM graduates!

IMAN Honors Malcolm X 50 Years After Assassination

This month, IMAN kicked off its 2015 Fresh Expressions series with ‘Legacy X’. February 21st marked the 50th year since the assassination of Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz). To honor his legacy and continue to engage with Malcolm’s principles of self-efficacy, human equality and dignity, IMAN hosted several local artists known for messages of love and justice. Rappers Ahlei of the Kuumba Lynx collective and Inky each kicked rhymes about struggle and unity, while K-Love’s powerful poetry had the audience calling for (and getting) an encore. In between performances, Green ReEntry leader Rashid Grant reenacted the famous “Ballot or the Bullet” speech. Attendees also enjoyed healthy snacks, drinks and fresh sandwiches, as well as free giveaways like Malcolm X buttons and a mixtape of Malcolm’s speeches.P1000127

Fresh Expressions is a community-led, safe, creative and artistic space that provides a platform for local artists and offers residents of all ages the opportunity to have fun, learn, foster relationships and build power. Join us for the next Fresh Expressions on Thursday, March 26th from 6-8pm at the IMAN Youth & Arts Wellness Center!

Ms. Dia’s Medicine

In 1955 on a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was sanctioned by law to discomfort herself by giving up her seat to a white man who was standing simply because she was Black. Although she had been fighting for civil rights at the NAACP for more than 10 years, until that day Rosa Parks had never been one to break rules. However, tired of being degraded and humiliated and motivated by the gruesome death of Emmet Till, she refused to give up her seat and was arrested. Over the next 11 months, 17,000 people would boycott Montgomery’s public transportation prompting the U.S. Supreme Court to rule Montgomery’s segregation laws unconstitutional.

Our elders from the Civil Rights Movement showed us that *individual effort* and *commitment to the struggle* are key to sustainable social change. After almost a year of walking or riding their bikes to and from work, literally improving their *health* in the process, leaders from Montgomery were able to impact their societal *wellness*, and bring about *healing* to their community as well as the nation. Many of IMAN’s recent campaigns share a message of health, wellness and healing. Projects such as Muslim Run drill the importance of one’s physical health in order to bring about social justice and essentially progress mental, spiritual and emotional health of the community as a whole.

Simply supporting these campaigns is not enough. As activists for a more just future, we need to take direct action by implementing physical health values into our own lives. Listed below are small steps one can take to improve their physical health. I urge you as a leader of IMAN to dedicate yourself to at least 2 of these things and make them habitual.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Eat a sweet fruit instead of desert high in sugar content

Don’t ignore your body’s need for adequate amounts of sleep

Stretch every morning! It keeps your joints flexible and improves

Drink plenty of water throughout the day

Listen to a motivating song, a recitation or a speech that gets you
pumped every day

Smile and laugh more often–its contagious!