I thought we were done with these. I didn’t say anything last time but apparently, this is a thing now. Let me start off by saying I don’t know Mona Haydar. I’m not talking about her character or who she is; but I am talking about her videos. I will never like the videos of her rapping. Neither her current video “Dog” or her previous video “Hijabi (Wrap my hijab)”. When the first video appeared on my timeline; I knew from the jump that I wasn’t going to watch it. As a Black and Latina Muslim Woman I had been dealing with way too much at the time. Every time I turned on the television there was another person, who could be my own flesh and blood, laying dead in the streets. Couple that with issues I was having within the Muslim community, with race and racism, I was not in a place to receive this video.
Somehow one of my colleagues got me to watch the video. And as I suspected, I was immediately over it. As a child of hip hop, the rapping was sub-par. Not everyone is a Biggie or Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez. But for this video to go as viral as it had, I was expecting bars. Sadly, it was bar deficient. Then the topic of the video was something I was over. As a Muslim woman who wears hijab, I am personally tired of being reduced to my hijab. People’s obsession over hijab is frustrating at best and damaging at worst. Both within the Muslim community and without. We, as Muslim women, are so much more complex than hijab. I get it. Hijab is super popular in the media; both right and left. In addition, we who wear hijab need comfort and support. Especially in a Trump era America. With so many hate crimes particularly aimed towards visible Muslim women. They are looking for an anthem; something that affirms them. However, there are a Black Muslim women who have been on the scene rapping, for and about Muslim Women. Where is the viral love for Miss Undastood, Poetic Pilgrimage, or Alia Sharrief? Women who can actually rap? Why aren’t they on NPR, or having their videos go viral up and down my timeline?
As if I couldn’t find more fault, the only people dancing in that first video are two Black women. I’ve had some people make the argument to me that those two women are dancers, known as Al-taw’am and that’s what they do. But if you zoom out ,what do you see? You have two Black women dancing in the background with a fair skinned Arab woman in the fore ground, doing something which is a historical Black art form. We’ve seen this before; Iggy Azelia, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift. All have used Black bodies or elements of Blackness to bring “authenticity” to their videos.
Now months later she has another video. And I still can’t do it. This time there are no Black women pop locking and dancing behind her; but it’s still a no for me. Is what she “rapping” about important? It sure is. Her video “Dogs” is about trash men. Too many women I know have encountered men who want to shame them one minute but then are in their DM’s with unsolicited dick pictures. Do I think Mona needed to do another rap video? No. Not until the community allows the same grace and space for Black women to do the same, I don’t. Until the community stops pushing to the foreground women fair skinned Arab women like her or Linda Sarsour, who are praised for their ability to be “down”, but silence Black women like myself and others. Not until we recognize that she is being given way more space and recognition than any other Black woman doing the same. Until our community can look itself in the mirror and make space for us Black Women, I can’t be on board. I can’t apologize for that. In the words of Uncle Snoop, “ It’s not fun if the homies can’t have none”.