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Doris Bittar! A Palestinian Civil Rights Activist Speaks!

By: | posted on: Mar 22, 2020

Date(s) - 03/22/2020
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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(619) 283-1100
Alafia Voices of the African Diaspora


About our Guest;


Doris Bittar is an international visual artist, writer, educator and civil rights organizer. Born in Baghdad to Lebanese and Palestinian parents, Bittar immigrated as a child from Lebanon to New York, and has lived in California for over 30 years. Bittar’s professional and community accomplishments link diverse American communities to the issues of migration, labor, peace and civil rights. Her political activism began on the East Coast as a union organizer for five years. The powerful union experience anchored Bittar’s understanding of how to forge templates for peace and civil rights issues. She is the current chapter president of the San Diego American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and founder of Teach and Learn Literacy (TaLL), a literacy program bringing English to the homes of Syrian refugees.

Bittar received a Masters-of-Fine Arts from the University of California San Diego and a Bachelors-of-Fine Arts from the State University of New York. Bittar’s interdisciplinary art projects examine the intersection of decorative motifs, pattern, labor, migration, and geopolitical legacies. Bittar has taught painting, drawing, design and theory for 25 years at the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, California State University San Marcos and the American University of Beirut. Bittar has over 40 publications on art and politics, among them a seminal essay on how to define Arabic calligraphy as spatial realms. Bittar’s art has been discussed in several books and dozens of journal articles. Her art is part of several museum collections in the United States and abroad. She is a member of the New York-based Gulf Labor, an artist collective that urges museums in Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf to treat migrant labor communities with human dignity. In San Diego Bittar is a member of Public Address, a public artist collective, and F.I.G., Feminist Image Group.

Statement of Focus 2020: “Unpacking Arab Invisibility and Steps to Peace”

Arab Americans are invisible. We are visible when the news is bad, which makes us vulnerable to those who prey on and seek scapegoats. We are considered Caucasian, but do not benefit from that coveted privilege. For Arabs, it is the mid 1950s when McCarthyism reigned and destroyed lives. This time it is most found in unexpected “liberal” dimensions. We demand the media and elected officials support our expressions, and safety. Peace is conspicuously invisible, too. Are we forgetting that achieving Peace demands tough and pragmatic steps within conversations that nourish difficult and avoided topics? A sizable number of San Diego’s Christians, Jews, Muslims, Arabs and others of many persuasions are talking to one another. It’s a worldwide development of the last 20+ years, yet our ideas, efforts and accomplishments are unknown or quickly forgotten. We have learned that an embracing peace movement must never allow fear and chaos to suppress difficult discussion. War is often an act of cowardice. Peace begins with courage, a cessation of violence and inclusive negotiating teams. How often have you heard the phrase, “We do not negotiate with terrorists?” Is it a veiled justification for continued war and conflict? What would we say if our perceived enemies choose our negotiating teams? Trust that alleviates fear and promotes courage is built by equal partners. Brick by brick societal, cultural and economic programs are implemented to benefit both sides. Peace is a well-worn tradition, a known path. Let’s be buoyed by the history of many before us who have followed this path and succeeded.

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