"DAM concert in Atlanta a victory for Palestine solidarity" by Eskandar

Check out this blog post from Eskandar about the first performance of DAM, a Palestinian hip-hop group, in Atlanta! As someone who was involved in the efforts to bring them here from apartheid Israel, I can say all the frustrations with visa denial were worth it in the end. Music like DAM's is an indispensable weapon in the struggle!

[Article originally posted over at The Ruh of Brown Folks, a blog worth following!]

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DAM, Palestine’s first hip hop crew, landed in Atlanta on Friday, April 16, 2010. They performed for a completely packed crowd at the Drunken Unicorn, along with local groups Weapons of Audio and Contraverse. The concert represents a victory for Palestinian solidarity activists who struggled to bring DAM to Atlanta, and for the group, whose voice and movement are often stifled by Israeli occupation.

The group had intended to tour the U.S. in 2009, but the U.S. government denied their travel visas at the last minute, forcing them to cancel. Their appearance and successful concert last week was made possible by the efforts of activists and organizations like the Movement to End Israeli Apartheid-Georgia (MEIA-G), who hosted the show. Concert organizers estimate that 250-300 people attended, packing the venue nearly beyond its capacity.

DAM put on a high-energy performance, a mixture of hip hop, comedy, and politics, flowing between Arabic and English. Mixing genres is characteristic of their music as well, which fuses Arabic percussion rhythms and melodies with urban hip hop. The group’s lyrics deal with Israeli state violence and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people, as well as the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality. They also draw influence from U.S.-based hip hop artists like Tupac and Mos Def, whose music reflects similar oppression, police brutality, racism and poverty.

“DAM brings the power of hip hop as a global voice against oppression and the lyrical magic of words and beats to infuse their audience with a spirit of resistance and hope. These artists offer a face of Palestine missing from the standard media presentation,” said Ouafae Azhari, coordinating member of MEIA-G.

Earlier in the day, DAM appeared at Georgia State University, alongside Slingshot Hip Hop director Jackie Salloum. DAM feature prominently in the film, which documents the history and development of Palestinian hip hop. DAM discussed the film, hip hop, and life under Israeli occupation with the audience. They will continue their U.S. tour throughout the month of April.

MEIA-G remains dedicated to the global campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it abides by international law and human rights. MEIA-G mobilized thousands last January in the streets of Atlanta to protest Israel’s massacre against the Palestinians in Gaza. It is currently working to end Georgia State University’s GILEE program which facilitates cross-border trainings between police in Georgia and apartheid Israel. For more on the program, see here and visit MEIA-G’s website.

gil scott-heron and BDS

It's not only Palestinian groups taking a stand against the occupation, though. Most recently, soul legend and rap pioneer Gil Scott-Heron has canceled a show that was planned in Tel Aviv in accordance with the international campaign to boycott Israel until the occupation has been dismantled. Though it took some pressure from dismayed fans and from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Gil is no stranger to taking political stands. He was one of the earliest artists to boycott apartheid South Africa and dedicated many of his best tunes to political issues of the day, from Black power to nukes. If that ain't enough reason to check out his newest album and tour, I don't know what is!

mayaday 2010

does anyone know of anything planned in downtown pittsurgh on May Day 2010?

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