Dual student profile: Roya Banan and Shani Banai

roya and shani_ThumbMeet Roya Banan and Shani Banai, two Bellevue College Running Start students who everyday battle systemic barriers to equality, flawed philosophy and poor taste in music.

From afar, the two might appear quiet and reserved. Banan is a cellist of three years who studies at BC and her high school, “making [herself] a more mindful person and making the world a better place, whatever that means.”

Banai’s instruments of choice, drums and her own vocal chords, tend to resonate a tad more ferociously than Banan’s cello does. Of the two, singing is her favorite way to express herself musically. She is studying at BC to get her associate degree and, similarly to Banan,  wishes to better herself by “getting all the education [she] can get, whether it be through school or experience.”

The two met rather accidentally, being placed next to each other during standardized testing due to Banan being the next name after Banai, and have since grown to appreciate each other’s philosophical, musical and intellectual beings. And pie.

“Our favorite food is pie,” Banan said, suddenly very serious.

The two work at promoting equality wherever they feel educated enough to stand strong. This work has included active participation in numerous anti-sexism, anti-ablism and pro-LGBTQ events.

Banan has helped publish several “feminist zines” meant to educate the public about the toll sexual oppression takes on our society as a whole and what can be done about it, addressing the serious topic in an approachable and entertaining way.

Banan has
additionally attended “No New Jim Crow” rallies, written feminist debate cases and constantly pushes herself to “educate myself and have dialogue about systems of oppression.”

Banai does much of the same, supporting and participating in eductional zines, as well as actively working with a feminist club for almost a year putting together
community projects. However, she holds to the belief that, “the biggest ‘work’ I’m doing in the community is working on myself and figuring out what kind of person I want to be and how I can achieve that.”

Banai and Banan are both actively involved with Ground Zero, a Boys and Girls Club venue that hosts shows and events oriented around qualiry to benefit non-profit organizations while offering a place for community building to occur.

Recently the venue put on a benefit show in which all proceeds went to Hopelink, an organization dedicated to “moving low-income people toward self sufficiency,” and on Nov. 22 plans to throw a show called “This One’s For the Ladies.” The show’s Facebook page describes itself as, “A night of shifting the male-centric paradigm in DIY art and music,” though continues to emphasize that the show is not meant to shun those who identify as male but, rather, is intended to support equality between male, female and those who identify anywhere in-between or outside those lines.

Additionally, the venue plans on a show on Dec. 13 meant to spread LGTBQ awareness and will feature talented bands with LGTBQ members.

Referencing the disparity between various minority groups in the music scene today, Banai mentioned that “Roya and I have been discussing a way to address the race issue in the music scene, but we are still thinking it through.”

Despite the serious nature of their activism and love for pie, the two are both friendly and bubbly.

At the Hopelink benefit concert late last month, “2000s Cover Night,” they performed light-hearted covers of Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff and Britney Spears songs, which generated more applause and laughter than might be expected.

For any of the BC population interested in becoming involved with Ground Zero or other equality movements, feel free to track either down on the Internet.

And bring pie.