One of the many amazing panels during MuslimGirl.com’s inaugural digital summit in celebration of the 5th annual Muslim Women’s Day was about “Seeking Sisterhood to Secure the Bag.” A heavy, yet completely necessary topic, the conversation was an open and honest one featuring four phenomenal women: Amani Al Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl.com; Dounia, musician; Carri Twigg, producer; and Jess Weiner, social entrepreneur.
The Muslim Women’s Day campaign is an initiative MuslimGirl.com does every year, beginning in 2017 after the Muslim ban. With it being our 5th annual campaign, it has come full circle, with the ban being lifted only a few months ago. As the theme for this year’s campaign is healing, resilience and renewal, Amani started off the panel by sharing why Muslim Women’s Day is so important: “Things had started to get so hard for us again, with this new wave of anti-Muslim sentiment as a result of the Muslim ban, and of course whenever moments like that happen for us, in any space, climate, industry, it’s always women, especially minority women from adverse communities that are the most vulnerable and are the most immediately and directly targeted and impacted. We just wanted to create a moment to bring that love back to Muslim women and reminds them that we’re here.”
The panellists were then asked a series of questions, beginning with how the pandemic has or hasn’t impacted their respective ‘hustles’. Dounia, Jess, and Carri all agreed that the pandemic gave them the time to settle down, watch the consciousness being brought towards what was happening to the Black community, and stay grounded for a bit to hone in on individual skills, but they also spoke about how that wouldn’t have been the case for everyone. “It taught me to live in duality; as much as there has been terrible loss, there’s also been incredible gain,” Jess said, explaining the difficulties in dealing with loss during the pandemic and how that affected her and her business but also talking about the way she could educate and help clients with very racist internal systems.
That was the perfect transition to the second question about how the variables the women’s community has faced in moving forward in terms of their respective businesses.
“Whether consciously or subconsciously, seeing a representation of people you resonate with, doing beautiful big things, is just so validating. It’s taught me the balance to lean on the community but also make sure that I’m a strong enough unit too. I’m just blessed for the representation,” Dounia answered.
Carri, being one of the three owners of her own production house, spoke about how they made sure everyone was cared for and able to have a roof over their heads during the isolation and lockdown period. “It was a very feminine way of articulating a problem, asking around and making sure everyone was able to afford everything. The three of us did what we had to do and we were community-oriented on how we could handle our team. That comes from our mutual investment on the ideals of sisterhood and the ideals of community and that we’re only as strong as we are united and that no one gets left behind.”
Amani then lead into the next question, “How much of your grind do you think has been playing the system/playing the rules versus breaking the rules and knocking them over?”
Both Dounia and Jess agreed that they are consciously aware of and respect their industries and the rules that have been set in place within, but that they are also their own people and would do things with agency and with themselves in mind. Carri added that most rules aren’t even rules; they’re just society’s expectations. “And I don’t care about anyone’s expectations. Society wasn’t built with you in mind, so don’t feel too much pressure around society’s expectations of you. Generally speaking, rules are useful. Break all the expectations, but rules should be considered with a little more patience,” she lamented.
Amani ended the panel with one final question, asking the panelists about their experience with imposter syndrome. “I went from being so many things and having so many titles and successes to still hitting rock bottom. None of my titles and successes mattered if I did not take care of myself and make sure that I was in a good mental and physical space. And living a life of good enough and not being a perfectionist is great because I’ve been able to connect with my sisterhood and my community. There is not one successful person I know that does not have imposter syndrome and I want to normalise that so we can live a life that we love based on what we know and our connection to the world and not please any outside source,” one panelist mentioned.
What a powerful closing message! Were you able to catch the summit?