What is the root of the word freedom?

One of the hosts from tonight’s event asked the crowd at Park Slope Methodist Church that question. It was a subtle reference to why Debbie Almonaster was forced to resign as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Community members gathered to support KGIA and its founding principal as they struggle to get the support they need from the NYC Department of Education and New Visions. KGIA was founded as a dual language school teaching English and Arabic and opened its doors this past fall to about sixty 6th graders in Brooklyn. Members of the school’s design team spoke about their intent to create a school that promotes understanding between cultures, and emphasized the need for such an institution at this time in our city. It is not the first dual language program in NYC as others have existed in Spanish, French and Chinese, but it is the first to promote Arab language and culture. The school and it’s principal were subject to anti-arab, anti-muslim, anti-immigrant attacks largely by Daniel Pipes and the New York Sun. Having lost their leader, the staff feels the school has lost its vision and the students are receiving a compromised education. The program last night, however, was indeed a celebration of Arab culture, multiculturalism, and promoting tolerance. It was inspiring not only to the audience, but to the teachers and designers of KGIA who were showered with support and understanding. Spoken word artists like Leila Buck, and young women from Urban Word, conveyed the importance of culture. Organizations like DRUM (Desi’s rising up and moving) and a professor from Columbia University’s Middle East Program, showed their solidarity against hate propoganda . And a smart and witty host, wove in jokes throughout the evening.It is a time to question the root of the word freedom. We will not be silent.

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~ by sangamithra on January 29, 2008.

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