On the Passing of Etel Adnan
The Board of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) grieves the passing of an extraordinary human and literary titan: Etel Adnan. Adnan’s contributions to RAWI in particular and to the storytelling world broadly cannot be overstated. Her life’s work creates a beacon for those in the Southwest Asian and North African diaspora, lighting a path for those among us who need or wish to speak and write in a world that often silences us. Adnan’s life was spent between borders, as was her vision for poetry and art, challenging us all to use the spoken and written word as a tool for deconstructing boundaries that restrict us. Her long and prolific career reveals an artist whose distinctive lens for the world was keenly applied to beauty, grief, longing, war, and, presciently, to preparing us for her own death: “The morning after/my death/we will sit in cafés/but I will not/be there/I will not be.”
The loss of Etel Adnan is deeply felt among us at RAWI. While she may no longer be here, her legacy and life remain sharply engraved on our hearts and in our minds.
– The RAWI Board, November 14, 2021
Statement on Palestine
The Radius of Arab American Writers stands in solidarity with Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, Gaza, and all of historic Palestine resisting settler-colonial violence. We mourn the Palestinian lives already lost, both this past week and since 1948. We urge those in the diaspora to join us in amplifying the voices of Palestinians back home. We call on other literary organizations to affirm their commitment to Palestine and Palestinian voices by meeting the demands of those on the ground.
Spend time with the work of those located in Palestine. Here are a few places to help you get started.
- Palestine Twenty Times in a Sentence, poems by Maya Abu-Alhayyat trans. Fady Joudah
- Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd
- Najwan Darwish’s books
- Blade of Grass ed. Naomi Foyle
Threads by community members:
- Zeina Hashem Beck, works by Palestinians
- N.A Mansour, Palestinian journalists, academics, & organizers
For those who are seeking to understand or hoping to lend tangential support, we recommend the following resources:
- Palestinian Youth Movement
- 100 Years war on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi
- Except for Palestine by Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell Plitnik
- Justice for Some by Noura Erakat
- Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis
Statement of Solidarity
The Radius of Arab American Writers stands in solidarity with the protests across the United States following the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of racist police officers, civilians, and the systems that enable injustice and brutality. Solidarity with Black people has always been important and this moment is no different. We must say Black Lives Matter, but we must also act on this truth.
The imagination and efforts of many resistance movements in Arab countries, from the struggle to free Palestine and beyond, would not be possible without the continued solidarity of Black resistance movements, as well as the labor of Black radical intellectuals who have built and contributed to much of the language underlying our conceptions of resistance. Our work becomes moot without acknowledging this and standing with Black people. Further, our focus as Arab-American writers must include amplifying the voices of Afro-Arabs in our own communities, and keeping Black liberation at the forefront of our work, not just as writers, but community members.
We must interrogate our own relationships to law enforcement and divest from trusting the military force that is U.S. law enforcement; we must challenge the carceral way of thinking into which we are all socialized as a result of growing up in the United States–and any other settler colonial nations. We must be accountable to how to take anti-racist action in the U.S., and how to do so in our countries of origin and their respective diasporas. This means anti-racism begins at home and must synapse into the world around us through our actions as responsible citizens of this planet.
This guide by Rana Abdelhamid and Mafaz Al-Suwaidan is a good resource. Additionally, we encourage our community members to donate to their local bail funds and to organizations doing important work in their communities. Below is a list from which to start.
– The RAWI Board, June 1st, 2020
Places to donate:
- A centralized document listing several bail funds across the nation, as well as legal resources for protesters (supporting & showing up for your local resistance efforts is an important part of standing in solidarity)
- Support Minneapolis Black resistance & community groups including Reclaim the Block, Black Visions Collective, Voices for Racial Justice, as well as bailing out folks via the Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Donating to the memorial funds of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery
- Michael Harriot, via The Root, gives an abridged timeline documenting the historical events leading up to this moment
- A guide to unpacking anti-Blackness in Arab communities by Rana Abdelhamid and Mafaz Alsuwaidan
- On Building a police-free future by MPD 150
- 26 ways to be in the struggle beyond the streets (an important guide, especially for immunocompromised & disabled folks)