Where do you seek representation, and how do you make yourself heard, seen, and understood? These questions inspire Bassam Tariq as a filmmaker, an entrepreneur, and speaker. TED fellow and director of the acclaimed films These Birds Walk and the Sundance Jury Prizewinning Ghosts of Sugar Land, Tariq investigates the way Muslim Americans live in our polarized world today, transcending religion and politics to tell a deeply human story that affects us all.
As a Muslim in contemporary America, Bassam Tariq is aware of the masks that he and people like him are forced to wear—self-censoring and dealing with guilt by association if a Muslim “does a bad thing,” he says. In his latest film, Ghosts of Sugar Land—shortlisted in the documentary short category for the 92nd Academy Awards, and available on Netflix now—Tariq depicts this literally, covering the characters’ faces with superhero masks as they deal with the possibility that their friend has joined ISIS. In his talks, Tariq approaches contemporary prejudice with insight and compassion, teasing apart an issue that goes much deeper than religion and social divisions. His sensitive talks show us how to both question and transcend what divides us, while thoughtfully acknowledging our differences.
“[These Birds Walk] is a somber literary masterpiece. Gosh, I love this film. Its every moment touches my heart.”— RogerEbert.com
Tariq’s Sundance-funded film These Birds Walk, about street children in Karachi, Pakistan, made The New Yorker, IndieWire, and Sight & Sounds Magazine's best of the year lists. “Through Asad’s rounds and Omar’s story—his family awaits in desolate Taliban territory—the filmmakers record the flash of youth’s headlong energies, its bumps and bruises, and its melancholies and brilliant chaos,” writes The New York Times. His viral 30 Mosques adventure blog, where he visited Muslim communities from around the country, made the front page of Time.com and CNN.com twice. It was named as CNN’s most notable story of 2011. He also made Filmmaker Magazine’s coveted “25 Directors to Watch” list.
The Beautiful and Complicated History of Muslim America
The PEW Research shows that the majority of Americans continue to have a negative perception of Islam. But the story of Muslims in America is vast and more complicated than you think: A newly converted man finds love in a South Dakota prison; a refugee community heals from the wounds of the Balkan wars in Idaho; a family in the Midwest negotiates directly with ISIS.
For the past eight years, Bassam Tariq has travelled to all 50 states chronicling stories for his viral travelogue 30 Mosques in 30 Days and his many ongoing writing projects. In this talk, he brings the complex history of Muslim America to life: starting from the African burial grounds found at the World Trade Center site to the present day War On Terror’s targeting of Muslims. Through first-hand accounts, Bassam Tariq gives a deeply intimate look into the diverse lives lived in Muslim America. Each personal, deeply empathetic story gives the audience a unique glimpse into the lives lived everyday by people just like them.
Redefining Diversity Driving Innovation in the Workplace
Many companies continue to scratch their heads on what “diversity in the workplace” means. Consultants are paid good money to help these companies figure out the answer. The truth is simple but harder to digest: diversity is not just about understanding, it is also about accepting what we won’t be able to understand. In this candid talk, Bassam Tariq presents a bold definition of diversity. He takes us on a personal journey through his constant fear of being pigeonholed. A blogger, filmmaker, and also a butcher, he relates his disparate professions as a response to the complicated history that America has had with diversity and makes the case for diversity always being the factor that drives innovation.