This Saturday, ArabOrgs – the student umbrella group that coordinates events involving several Arab organizations on campus – will present “Arab Xpression,” a rich and diverse experience in Arab culture.
The s-how’s program is extensive. In addition to spoken-word poetry readings and a fashion show, which will include clothing from North Africa, the Gulf and the Levantine regions, the night also features stand-up comedy acts.
Participating groups include the Arab Student Association, the Egyptian Student Association, the Lebanese Student Association, Students Allied for Freedom and Economic Equality and Medical Students of Middle Eastern Descent.
“We feel the need to collaborate between our respective communities,” ASA President Saada Jawad said. “We need to remain unified.”
One featured comedian is Aron Kader, part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. Kader has appeared in FX’s “The Shield,” Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” and in the pages of The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek magazine.
But each segment, even those that take a light-hearted tone, is socially oriented at a basic level, intended to address “issues facing (the Arab) community” and “break down negative stereotypes,” Jawad said.
“People aren’t used to hearing positive things about the Arab community,” said Sirene Abou-Chakra, ASA’s external relations chair.
Hip-hop and spoken-word artist Will Youmans, also known as The Iron Sheik, will present his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign policy, the war on terrorism and his experience as an Arab-American in the United States.
“He tries to educate and promote awareness through his words,” Jawad said.
Abou-Chakra said that it’s impossible to put on an Arab culture show that does not involve politics.
“Even Arab entertainment is political,” she said. “It’s important in Arab society – you cannot completely omit politics. It’s a part of what we are.”
This year will mark the show’s four-year anniversary. It has grown in popularity with each annual performance, growing from an audience of 100 for the first show to almost 700 in attendance last year.
“This is a great way to learn (about Arab culture),” Jawad said.
ArabOrgs aims to present “who (Arabs) are as people . the humanistic side of our culture,” Jawad said. “We’re trying to bring everyone together – Arab and non-Arab students alike.”
The show will begin Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Michigan Union Ballroom. It is free and open to the public.