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2024 UIC Arab American Heritage Month

Arab American Heritage Month events flyer

The state of Illinois designates April as Arab American Heritage Month (AAHM). Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, with the help of several Arab American organizing groups, issued a resolution proclaiming April to be National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM), which President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of State recognized in April 2021.

During April, Arabs and Arab Americans are honored and celebrated for their historical contributions, culture, traditions, history and overall social presence as a community in the United States.

This month, the UIC Arab American Cultural Center is hosting a variety of events and programming to highlight and elevate the diversity of Arab American experiences.

  • Melancholy Acts: Defeat and Cultural Critique in the Arab World
    Wednesday, April 10
    2pm – 3:30pm
    Arab American Cultural Center, Taft Hall 101 (826 S. Halsted Street)

    Join the Arab American Cultural Center for a book talk and discussion with Dr. Nouri Gana, professor of comparative literature and near eastern languages and cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Gana will be presenting on his book Melancholy Acts: Defeat and Cultural Critique in the Arab World followed by a discussion with the author.

    “Gana’s book is a powerful call for Arab thinkers and artists to turn melancholy into a discourse of empowerment and a ‘decolonial project of emancipation.’ In its call to action and in its incisive analyses, Melancholy Acts is a must read.”
    – Nabil Matar

  • Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archive
    Thursday, April 11
    3pm – 4:30pm
    Arab American Cultural Center, Taft Hall 101 (826 S. Halsted Street)

    Join the Arab American Cultural Center for a book talk and discussion with Dr. Mejdulene Bernard Shomali, a queer Palestinian poet and an associate professor in gender, women’s and sexuality studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County as well as the program coordinator for arab and muslim american studies. Dr. Shomali will be presenting on her book Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives followed by a discussion with the author.
  • Palestine, Pinkwashing, and Bodily Autonomy: Conversation and Poetry with Mx. Yaffa AS
    Monday, April 15
    4pm – 6pm
    GSC, 181-183 BSB (1007 W. Harrison Street)

    Join the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Arab American Cultural Center for a moderated conversation with Mx. Yaffa AS about the lived realities of queer and trans Palestinians, how the struggles for trans and Palestinian liberation and autonomy are intertwined and why pinkwashing undermines both these interconnected struggles for survival and justice. Yaffa will also share poetry from their recent publication Blood Orange, followed by a book sale and signing. Snacks and sweets provided by a local Palestinian eatery will be served. All proceeds will go to support responsive mutual aid for queer and trans Palestinians living in Palestine or the diaspora and other queer and trans people impacted by genocide.Mx. Yaffa is an acclaimed disabled, autistic, trans, queer Muslim and indigenous Palestinian individual who has received multiple awards for their transformative work around displacement, decolonization, equity and centering the lived experiences of individuals most impacted by injustice. They are also the head of two mutual aid organizations that raise roughly $10,000 each week for trans-Palestinians in Gaza right now. Mx. Yaffa wears many hats in their professional life–they are the executive director of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), as well as the founder of several non-profits and community projects. They are also an engineer, death and birthing doula, peer support specialist, consultant and artist. Mx. Yaffa is a storyteller and an equity and transformation consultant, having shared their story with over 150,000 audience members at speaking events globally.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine.

  • Tunjarat Tayta: Eid Celebrations!
    Tuesday, April 16
    12:30pm – 2pm
    Arab American Cultural Center, Taft Hall 101 (826 S. Halsted Street)

    Join the Arab American Cultural Center in celebrations of Eid and Eid food items from across the region. Eid in Arabic means festival or holiday. This year, April holds Eid El-Fitr ﺮﻄﻔﻟا ﺪﻴﻋ at the end of Ramadan and preparations for Eid Al-Fiseh (Eastern Easter) ﺪﻴﻋ ﺢﺼﻔﻟا and sham e-nassem ﻢﻴﺴﻨﻟا ﻢﺷ which will take place in early May. Families across the region spend their Eids with each other being grateful for good health and enjoying good food and each other’s company.
  • 2024 UIC Arab American Cultural Center Graduation
    Sunday, April 28
    Student Center West (828 S. Wolcott Avenue, Suite 242)

    The ArabAmCC will be hosting a commencement ceremony for students graduating in spring, summer or fall 2024 as well as their families and friends. Students do not have to identify as Arab to participate in the ArabAmCC graduation. All are welcome!

Additionally, the ArabAmCC is promoting their Elementary School Program which aims to engage elementary school students and teachers to celebrate and educate throughout Chicagoland during Arab American Heritage Month. Through different presentations, activities and displays, the ArabAmCC will create a space to increase elementary students’ knowledge of the unique contributions and the many challenges faced by the Arab American community in the United States as well as inspire Arab-positive experiences and advance unbiased concepts about Arab Americans and, more broadly, people from the Arab World/ Middle East and North Africa.

There is a long history of negative representation of Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners in U.S. media and popular culture. These ideas influence how Americans interact with one another and inform institutional and interpersonal racist practices and beliefs. Education is an important strategy to address racism and implicit biases to help create a more just and inclusive society.

The ArabAmCC engages with elementary schools in the Chicagoland area by providing age-appropriate engaging presentations, activities and programs at the schools. ArabAmCC staff and student interns, along with occasional artists in the community, create a tailored program in conversation with each school.

This program also provides important professional development and leadership skills-building for UIC students who get to plan and implement events, engage with elementary school students of different backgrounds and ages, improve their public speaking skills and demonstrate their academic advances.

Photo ID: Flier is white with red accents, almost entirely consisting of text. The Arab American Cultural Center’s logo, as well as the logo for Arab American Heritage Month, are in the top right corner.