Atlanta Hosts CommUNITY Café and Kayem Residency

IMAN recently hosted another weeklong Sacred Cypher Creative artist residency, this time featuring Chicago-based hip-hop artist, Kayem. This was the third residency of 2018, and the first held in Atlanta. Kayem’s work is rooted in his identity, being a child of the Libyan diaspora. His residency, entitled “My Home is a People”, collaborated with IMAN’s Green ReEntry program on a series of events and workshops using free-writing, poetry and hip-hop to empower personal stories and help communities harness their pasts as a tool to positively shape the future.

The residency began with Kayem facilitating a “Writes of Passage” writing workshop at Atlanta’s Greening Youth organization in collaboration with Urban Youth Corps. Kayem’s vulnerability encouraged attendees to open up and heal by writing out their personal stories. Later that week, Kayem led “Recalibrating our Spirit”, during which newly hired Atlanta Green ReEntry cohort members bonded through mutual storytelling. He also hosted an intergenerational town hall meeting called “Bridging Boundaries” on Independence Day, which gathered a diverse group of local leaders to discuss ways to create bridges in communities that remain deeply divided.

Kayem was invited to present his work at the 2018 Community Life Forward (CLF) conference, where he appeared at “Taqwa Talks” and spoke on the Social Justice panel. His residency concluded with CommUNITY Café: Revitalize and Remix. Over 400 CLF conference attendees, community members, friends, families and supporters convened for an inspirational live performance experience designed to connect, inspire and organize diverse communities to action.

During the event’s “Café Hour”, audiences were invited to engage IMAN’s ongoing community wellness work, support local businesses and artisans inside CLF’s marketplace, snack on delicious appetizers, and enjoy an interactive performance led by Surabhi Ensemble.

Kayem emceed the Café alongside Authentic Aseelah, and with sounds provided by ATL’s very own DJ Rasyrious. In addition to Kayem, the night’s extraordinary artist lineup included: Brother Ali and Al Taw’am, Tammy McCann, Mama Sol and a global music fusion collaboration featuring members of the Surabhi Ensemble (Ronnie Malley, Carlo Basile, Massamba Diop).

Stay tuned for IMAN’s next artist residency in October, featuring Chicago hip-hop artist PHENOM. If you are interested in getting more intimately involved with IMAN’s arts work, please email arts@imancentral.org.

‘Off The List, On The Love’ This Ramadan

Too many of our beloved sisters and brothers find themselves on all the wrong lists: on waiting lists to access desperately needed housing, mental health services and employment opportunities; on poverty and hunger indices; and on criminal registries that perpetually punish individuals, families and entire neighborhoods. These lists contribute to our lack of racial and social equity, and are ultimately rooted in a lack of love.

During the blessed month of Ramadan, IMAN embraced the theme “Off The List, On The Love”, strengthening bonds of mutual love throughout our community. Organizers, artists and leaders hosted regular Refresh the Hood engagements at local corner stores, where they promoted healthy living with cooking demonstrations and artistic expression. NowThis Media captured the excitement in a widely viewed online news segment. On Wednesday evenings, dozens of individuals and families gathered to break their fasts and engage one another through Ramadan Reflections sessions.

Both Chicago and Atlanta hosted widely attended Community Iftars, during which hundreds of community members enjoyed healthy dinner, opportunities to deepen relationships with neighbors, and night prayer under the stars. Dr. Sherman Jackson delivered a special keynote talk during a private IMAN fundraising event hosted by an Atlanta Advisory Board Member. Two young men from Chicago’s Green ReEntry cohort were on hand to hear Dr. Jackson’s remarks, and share their stories with him and other guests.

With your prayers and generosity, we were able to raise over 70% of our Ramadan Fundraising Drive goal. As we continue to raise these critical funds necessary for the growth and success of our work, we encourage you to contribute to the ongoing drive. Click here to make your zakat-eligible, tax-deductible donation.

Double Your Love

There is a certain type of love at IMAN. We can feel it among the young men in Green ReEntry who genuinely understand that our case workers, instructors and counselors desire nothing from them other than their utmost success. We can feel it among families who, when visiting our health center, experience the care, concern and compassion that they would only receive in the living rooms of their closest care takers. We can feel it in the passion of the leaders who build and drive IMAN campaigns addressing food deserts and mass incarceration.

And we’ve undoubtedly felt your love. As support from hundreds of individuals and families across the country has poured in during this year’s Ramadan Drive, your contributions have helped us get more people on that powerful, transformative and prophetic love that we all hunger and thirst for.

We are enormously grateful for the ongoing generosity of a family that has continuously stepped up to double your love. In these last ten days of Ramadan, they will match your donations, dollar for dollar. Please donate generously to help us reach and exceed IMAN’s ‘Off The List, On The Love’ Ramadan Drive goal.

During this sacred month, we’ve shared with you the vulnerabilities of so many of our people—those placed on waiting lists for desperately needed services, on poverty indices that strip them of their dignity and on arbitrary registries that perpetually criminalize them. We’ve shared with you our vision for getting people “off the lists and on the love,” and our commitment is to continue fighting until no one is left on lists that shouldn’t exist.

Atlanta Green ReEntry Graduation

Earlier this year, five returning citizens in Atlanta joined Green ReEntry, an intensive, 12-week training and education course in plumbing and project management offered by Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Green ReEntry offers support to formerly incarcerated individuals facing barriers to employment, and has been a cornerstone of IMAN’s work since the organization’s inception 20 years ago.

Green ReEntry manager and master plumber, Jermaine Shareef, was teacher and mentor to these five hard-working men. Four of the five completed the program. Tariq Baiyina, Qawi Clark Gerald, Malik Bradley Brantley, and Karim Andrew Vance all disprove the stigmas and stereotypes that are hurtfully attached to the formerly incarcerated. Mr. Tariq Abdullah, a community leader and the CEO of Tarchitects LLC, led seminars on project management, during which the Green ReEntry crew directly applied their newly acquired knowledge and skills to create IMAN Atlanta’s new program office located at 1007 Cascade Ave SW.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 with a full audience, the crew successfully graduated from the Green ReEntry program and proved that they are greater than what our current criminal justice climate may have us believe. They are committed leaders and inspiring role models dedicated to transforming neglected neighborhoods into flourishing communities wherein our youth can feel safe and supported. The crew is dedicated to fostering the loving environments that were denied to them.

Family, friends, and fellow community members joined in the special graduation ceremony. IMAN Atlanta Director, Imam Mansoor Sabree, and Advisory Committee Chair, Sameera Fazili, attested to the power and strength of these extraordinary men, and the tremendous potential of Green ReEntry to push the criminal justice reform movement forward.

Other special guests in attendance were Dr. Rami Nashashibi, IMAN Executive Director , Alia Bilal, IMAN Director of Community Relations, and Mama Sol, a spoken word artist and activist from Atlanta, who elevated the spirit of #FightFearBuildPower through her poetry performances .

To learn more about IMAN Atlanta; please visit imancentral.org and ‘like’ IMAN Atlanta on Facebook to stay connected and support future Green ReEntry programs and activities.