Meet the Muslim Girls Making Change
Meet The Muslim Girls Making Change
By Sadiyah Bashir
The Women's March on Washington is today and although some may be skeptical about the intentions of the March or, if it's going to be another event history will eventually dilute and White-wash. I have to say I have been impressed with the representation of Women of color, Muslim women and other marginalized groups as well. However, I always keep my eyes and ears open to see if one especially important and equally marginalized group is being allowed or, setting their own platform at these types of events and that group is the youth. With a passion like no other, the youth is really the heartbeat of the revolution and if we’re suppressing their voices, we’re suppressing the movement. This year, I recently met four young Muslim women who make change everywhere they go, so it was no surprise seeing their faces all over the internet representing themselves, their faith, and their youth at the Women's March on Washington.
We spoke with 16 year old Pakistani-American, Kiran Waqar of “Muslim Girls Making Change.” An organization from out of Vermont about who they are, what they do and, what inspires them.
“MGMC started originally as a youth activism group in which Muslim youth would come together to volunteer to make a difference and portray Islam in a better way. After our slam team formed, the group’s meaning formed into what we have today."
Muslim Girls Making Change has traveled around the United States sharing their truth through the outlet of Spoken Word Poetry.
The slam poetry team currently has four members, Hawa Adam, Kiran Waqar, Lena Ginawi, and Balkisa Abdikadir. They are dedicated to social justice through poetry.
“When working with a college student on the topic of female empowerment, I realized how few women are involved in slam in my home state of Vermont. It made me realize that once again we are a representative for a large group of people and that can be daunting. In addition, we often get comments on our Facebook or other social medias directed to our looks, ethnicity, or sex rather than our poetry. I think it takes people to get past our initial appearance and listen to what we are saying. Also, we do get those who don’t believe women should be so vocal, that what we do isn’t proper, and that we shouldn’t be so involved.
To be fair, it (being a woman) has also aided me. This pressure, while much at times, is also a source of power. It helps me push on and realize that I can’t give up because this is more than just me. This is a Syrian mother, a Muslim daughter, any person of color forced to assimilate. Our poems aren’t just our stories, they are collective truths that others can identify or learn from.”
“I sincerely hope that we are encouraging other youth to get involved and to speak up! Currently we are working in our home state to create a slam culture but advocacy can be done in multiple ways! Your way may be different that others, but it is still crucial. You have a story and that is powerful. That story, that truth that you show might even change a life. You never know how far your words will reach or what effect they will have. So overall, speak wisely and speak often.” Said Waqar
Nothing stops these girls! Not even distance, although they will not physically be in Washington D.C. for the March, they will be helping in leading their own right in their home of Vermont. Recently, they travelled and competed as the first all Muslim team at Brave New Voices the world's largest slam poetry competition, when we asked about their experience Waqar elatedly said,
“It was amazing. Not only the poetry and knowledge we left with, but the diversity we saw. Living in the 2nd Whitest state in America, we have become used to assimilating and being the trophy person of color. But, at BNV we weren’t ‘that brown kid’, we were Kiran, Hawa, Lena, and Balkisa. We could be us freely without the weight of being the face of all Muslims or any other group we belong to. It was an amazing break from our everyday lives that we didn’t know we needed.”
Not only does their circumstances push them forward but so does their spiritually beliefs, when we asked Waqar to desbribe MGMC she simply said, "Muslim." To add, when we asked her about her person plan, it was nothing short of inspiring,
“In 5 years I want to be in college studying something I know I can use to make an impact. This very well may not be slam as I also work in the organization in many activism and volunteerism based groups in and out of school. Whether it be in business or the arts, I know that I won’t be satisfied unless I know I made a difference in my everyday life.”
I’m sure whether it's Brave New Voices, The Women's March or, simply a stage in Vermont wherever, these girls go, greatness, inspiration and faith go with them.