Samar Ziadat | December 12 2016
Twitter can be a minefield for women of colour, especially after the recent US presidential election, but when the mainstream media fails us, twitter can also be a primary source for breaking world news and undergound arts and culture – it’s also the central place in which I scout artists and writers for dardishi. I’m never quite certain what I’m going to find before each scan of my feed, but one thing that I’m certain of, is that the things that Arab women have to say will always be the highlight. If you’re looking to decolonise your twitter experience, these are the first babes I would suggest you follow:
Mona is an Egyptian author, columnist and public speaker on Global Feminism and Arab and Muslim issues. She was born in Port Said, Egypt in 1967, and has lived in the U.K, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. Her book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, is one of my favourite books of all time, and her political insights, outfits and tattoos are by far the coolest things on my newsfeed. Fact: she retweeted me once and I actually cried actual tears.
Maysoon is a Palestinian-American actress, activist, writer and stand-up comedian. At the beginning of her career she found that her disability (cerebral palsy) and her ethnicity stood in the way of her success. As a result of this, she channeled her frustration into stand-up comedy sets that tackled issues such as racism, abilism, sexism, Islamophobia and imperialism. She is one of America’s first Muslim women comedians and the first person to ever perform stand-up comedy in Palestine and Jordan. Seeing her perform in Jordan as a teenager was a hugely influential and validating experience for me. Until I can see her perform IRL again, I’ll continue to coo at tweets of her fluffy cat Beyoncé.
Maysoon Zayid (@maysoonzayid) May 26, 2016
Maysoon Zayid (@maysoonzayid) May 26, 2016
Dina Abou Karam
Dina is a queer Lebanese game designer who has worked and studied in Beirut, Paris, Oslo, Koln and Osaka. She enjoys travelling, and is fluent in English, Arabic, French and Japanese. She’s outspoken and gutsy, discussing issues of race, feminism and queerness online, at work and at gaming conferences. Her sketches, drawings and graphic work, which always feature empowering images of girls and women of colour, and her selfies with her wife and her cat Potato, always bring me so much joy.
Rafeef is a Palestinian-Canadian spoken-word poet and human rights activist who was born in Beirut, grew up in Tunisia, and is currently based in London. She is most well known for her poems ‘We teach life, Sir’ and ‘Shades of Anger’, which went viral within a few days of being published online. She has toured all over the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada and Australia performing her poetry, speaking at conferences and working for charity organisations. Her poems are the perfect battle-cry for change, and they inspire me to go out into the world and kick-ass everyday.
Nicole J. Georges
Nicole is a queer Syrian-American writer and illustrator based in Portland, Oregon. She’s been writing and illustrating for twenty years, publishing several zines and an award-winning graphic memoir. In an interview with dardishi she chatted with us about her artistic practice and the power of punk rock feminism. Nicole is my favourite graphic novelist of all time, and her pet Chihuahua is the cutest animal on the internet (after my cats).
Zena Agha is a Palestinian-Iraqi poet, writer, activist and public speaker from London, who is currently studying at Harvard. She graduated from Warwick University with First Class Honours in History and Politics, and her research at Harvard centers around a postcolonial understanding of Palestine. She’s written for The Independent and The Economist, and she’s worked for UNESCO, the Centre for Social Justice, Operation Black Vote and the British Parliament. The first time I heard of Zena was when watching a badass Tedx talk that she delivered during her undergraduate degree, which you can watch below. Zena wrote dardishi a lovely message of support and encouragement on the day that we launched our website, and it meant the absolute world to us.
Lina is the founder of SheFighter, the 1st Self-Defense Studio for women in the Middle East. The studio, which is based in Jordan, aims to protect women from violence through self-defense training and by building up their self-esteem. Lina holds a black belt in Taekwondo, and has over 17 years of experience in Kick-Boxing, Kung Fu and Boxing, representing Jordan in national and international competitions and championships. SheFighter was founded when Lina started training women in the basement of her parent’s house in 2010, and this year she trained Emma Watson in her purpose-built studio in Amman. I’ve been a long-time follower of Lina because, not only do I have a huge crush on her, but I’ve also learnt a lot from the instructional self-defense videos that she regularly posts online.
Malia is a British-Algerian politician and the president of the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS). She is the first BME person and first Muslim person to be elected as president of the NUS. After fleeing Algeria during the Algerian Civil War, Malia and her family moved to Birmingham, where she became politically active. She got involved in the NUS while completing an MPhil in Postcolonial Theory at the University of Birmingham. I first met her at an NUS Women’s Conference back in 2014, where she stepped aside from her busy schedule to speak to me about racial issues that I was concerned about as a student. I’m always interested in what Malia has to say, and I’ll be sure to follow all her badass achievements to come!
… and if you’re looking to follow the one and only dardishi, you can also do so here:
Header image courtesy of Mona Eltahawy’s twitter page.
Samar Ziadat graduated with an MSc from the University of Edinburgh’s College of Art in 2016. When she’s not ranting about race or feminism, she’s googling pictures of little dogs. You can follow her on instagram and twitter, or read her articles here.