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“Without a sense of caring, there can be no community”: Oklahoma Angels

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Dr. Nyla Ali Khan.
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EDMOND, Okla. -- In one of my earlier articles, I focused on community building, empowering the youth, and interrogating racial discrimination through education. I reiterate that I have learned that community is the ability to organize and mobilize for social change, which requires the creation of awareness not just at the individual level but at the collective level as well.

Community is the courage to bridge divides and to pave the way for the education of the younger generation, which is the only viable response to ignorance and bigotry. Community is the openness to diverse opinions, dissent, and differences of opinion, which is true grit. It is the need of the hour to create shared consent on the fundamental principles of humanity, compassion, empathy, and open-mindedness, which blurs the divide between “us” and “them.”

And I found my concrete examples of community building on Saturday, November 3 at the Dr. Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation and Oklahoma Sovereign Arts Foundation Benefit Luncheon and Angel Awards. I was reminded, once more, that community is much more than mere tradition.

Ayanna Najuma, executive director of the Dr. Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation Inc., told me, "The Dr. Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation Inc. in collaboration with the Oklahoma Sovereign Arts Foundation is committed to the philosophy of community - feeding families, educating the youth, revitalizing neighborhoods, re-establishing healthy lifestyles, and providing arts and culture to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Oklahoma City.  Working together makes that happen.  Oklahomans work hard and through their hard work progress occurs.  Being of service to the planet is a personal choice, and we are honored to recognize a group of individuals we call ‘Angels’ for their significant contributions to make Oklahoma great."

As one of the honorees Joan Korenblit observed, “In so many ways, the Dr. Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation (RJCBF) and the Oklahoma Sovereign Arts Foundation (OSAF) have enhanced the lives of many, many Oklahomans. In such diverse areas as employment, economic growth, wellness, arts, culture and education, the partnering foundations are greatly improving our state.”

Mike Korenblit poignantly reminded the audience about the Frankenstein monster of racial violence in neighborhoods and communities, “Eleven days ago, two African-Americans were murdered at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky, by a White Racist. Eight days ago, an Anti-Semite walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered eleven Jews (at worship) simply because of who they were. We are still hurting; but we will get through this. We will continue to fight for all those who are marginalized because of what is happening in this country. We hope that all of you will do the same; because it’s the right thing to do.”

I emphasize, as I did in my article on the unjust "Blasphemy Law" in Pakistan, that the religion I was raised in advocates social equality, economic and political democratization, and empowerment of minorities. The religion that I was raised in opposes the subjection of religious minorities to a centralized and authoritarian state. Equality before law, and in economy, politics, and society is in perfect consonance with my ideological and political position.

Nor can the religion that I was raised in be reduced to fire and brimstone sermons by myopic preachers. So, I endorse the mission of the Dr. Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation, Inc. and the Oklahoma Sovereign Arts Foundation.

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan is a regular contributor to Red Dirt Report.

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About the Author

Nyla Ali Khan

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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