Two and a half weeks ago, Fadia Kader returned from a two-month trip to the Middle East with a renewed spirit and a suitcase full of swag: tiny jars filled with sand she'd collected from the foot of the Sphinx in Egypt, handmade daggers purchased in Syria, and a suitcase full of authentic keffiyehs.
No less tangible were the bloody, recurring images of the war that consumed Gaza during the last two weeks of her visit. Thanks to a steady diet of Al-Jazeera newscasts, horrific footage like the one of "a kid that had his brains and guts still spilling out" had been etched into her subconscious.
"Everywhere you turned, everybody had a TV on, be it in the little mom-and-pop store, be it the salon, at your cousin's house. It was everywhere," says Kader, who was born to Palestinian refugees in Kuwait and spent her early childhood in Jordan before moving to America. "The reality was constantly in your face. It was almost like a challenge, like, 'OK, you see what the hell is going on, now what are you gonna do about it?'"
So Kader decided to throw a party.
Her next monthly Broke & Boujee soiree at the Five Spot on Jan. 29 will flaunt a throwback theme – Make Love, Not War – and a portion of the door proceeds will benefit Gaza relief efforts overseen by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. She says it's her way to bring awareness to the "human crisis" in Gaza – where more civilians died than Hamas soldiers during Israel's three-week offensive – without getting too muddled in the politics surrounding the conflict.
Twenty-six-year-old Kader tends to get tangled in politics of a different nature. Last year, she waged her own resistance of sorts, against factions within Atlanta's up-and-coming hip-hop scene. Thus, her recent call to "make love, not war" could be intended for targets beyond the Middle East. It just might double as a resolution of peace aimed at her music scene peers, too.
If little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, Kader isn't the least bit interested in joining the club. One of her favorite quotes is from an interview Larry King conducted with Martha Stewart shortly after she was sentenced to serve five months in prison in 2004. "I wish I were just the nicest, nicest, nicest person on Earth. But I am a business person," Stewart was quoted saying. "If I were a man, no one would ever say that I was arrogant."
As the creator/promoter of the Broke & Boujee lifestyle parties that turned the city on its ear two years ago; manager of the Atlanta-based rap duo Proton; sometimes celebrity-stylist (who worked with Mariel Haenn on Q-Tip's recent album photo shoot); and all-around industry maven on the come up, Kader aspires to be that tough.
But she's also the same Fadia Kader who greets friends and associates with full-bodied hugs, prefers listening to the adult contemporary radio station B 98.5 over anything remotely hipster-related, and has filled one and a half journals with an ever-evolving list of things she wants in a man. So far, the list stretches to No. 450.
Girly has a soft side – a stamp-collecting, MTV's-"The Hills"-watching, snorts-uncontrollably-when-she-laughs-out-loud side. And sometimes, it really gets in the way of business. But mostly it just reminds her that she's still her mother's child.
Born the youngest of six brothers and sisters, Kader was only 6 years old when she saw her mother die. It happened one day as the two of them were walking home through the desert. Her mother had taken Kader to the doctor's office but forgotten to bring her wallet. On the trip back to retrieve it, she collapsed from what Kader believes was a combination of heat stroke and diabetes.
"It's interesting, 'cause I see myself in her," says Kader. "I look identical to her now. I saw pictures of her on this trip, and that's why this trip has been so good – because it's been such a closed case with my family. [They've always been] like, 'OK, it's enough that she saw her dead; we're not talking about her.' Nobody would tell me anything, and it's really important to know one's past."
As older family members filled in the missing pieces of her mother's life, Kader gained more insight. "She was overly generous and had a bleeding heart, and I'm such a sap," she says, recalling how she witnessed her mother endure burdens in life so hurtful that Kader prefers to keep the details private out of respect for her family. "She was just really strong and she put up with a lotta shit."
When Broke & Boujee earned a substantial plug in Urb magazine's annual Next 100 issue in 2008, some within the local scene considered it overkill -- especially since Kader had merely served as the innovator of the genre-bending, scenester club aesthetic started by Sloppy Seconds.
Is it me or does Big Gigantic sound much like Kenny G trippin on a…
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