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With the 23rd Annual Concert of Colors underway, having kicked off on July 4th at New Center Park with the Tune Up Concert hosted by WDET’s DJ Ismael, and music performances, poetry readings and films scheduled through this weekend, one of the diversity festival’s most important programs is their “Forum on Community, Culture & Race: The Art of Empowerment + Iftar Dinner.” Taking place on Wednesday, July 8 from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Annex at the Arab American National Museum, the discussion blends a lively panel of local performance and spoken word artists for a conversation about art and community during the celebration of diversity and expression that is Concert of Colors.

Moderated by artist, activist and historian Ozzie Rivera, the panelists include Piper M. Carter, founder, Foundation of Women in Hip Hop and partner, 5E Gallery; Bryce Detroit, entertainer and evolutionary MC, ONE Mile Project; Alise Alousi, poet and associate director, InsideOut Literary Arts Project; and jessica Care moore, poet and CEO, Moore Black Press, and executive producer, Black WOMEN Rock!

Zena Ozeir, coordinator of the forum, describes its role in the overall festival. “The theme of the forum is art and activism, and more specifically how art has been utilized by community members towards empowering their communities. This emphasis on local artists is one that I wanted to highlight, because through my work with the Cultural Exchange Network, I saw how integral art is to many of the organizations that are a part of the Network, and how integral art is to community in Detroit, more broadly. It is not only a way to engage the community, but to preserve the history of the communities, through dance, through poetry, through murals around the city. I have also seen a theme of art being used to empower communities, such as the project that Bryce Detroit is a part of, the ONE Mile Project, as well as the work that Piper Carter does with the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop.

This year, the festival occurs during the month of Ramadan, when traditional Muslims fast throughout the day. As a result, Ozeir describes that this event “incorporates an iftar dinner to accommodate Muslim participants, and to also include a cultural element of the Arab American community, during which the event falls.”

“Sunset on July 8th is at around 9:15, and so we will have dinner set up for everyone to eat at the time of break-fast (aka iftar).”

By celebrating with a meal at the end of the panel, the Arab American National Museum hopes to continue the conversation sparked by the speakers. As Ozeir notes, “This event is a way to engage artists, art lovers, and any community members to engage in conversations that are important to the future of our communities. While art is a form of expression, and is not explicitly political, there are many implications that come with questions around who art is made for, who it is made by, and how it is used.”

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