Poetry News

Huffington Post Profiles Poetry Slam Group, Muslim Girls Making Change

By Harriet Staff

Wake Up

The poetry slam quartet Muslim Girls Making Change has one mission: to address Islamophobia in the United States. The team, comprised of Kiran Waqar, Balkisa Abdikadir, Hawa Adam, and Lena Ginawi, met at Young Writers Project, a non-profit in Vermont, and recently performed together at the Brave New Voices Poetry Festival.

“September 11, 2001, wake up America the enemy is here.”

This is how a group of four Muslim American teenagers, who hope to change the culture of discrimination toward Muslims through the art of slam poetry, start their poem, “Wake Up America.”

This year there have been at least 200 acts of Islamophobia in the United States. And if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had his way, Muslims wouldn’t even be allowed to enter the country.

“I think people like Donald Trump want Muslims banned out of fear. They are scared of the unknown and they are scared of change,” Kiran Waqar, a 16-year-old poet from Vermont, told The Huffington Post.

Waqar is a member of the slam poetry quartet, Muslim Girls Making Change, which recently participated in the international youth poetry festival Brave New Voices. She, along with members Balkisa Abdikadir, Hawa Adam and Lena Ginawi, formed MGMC after getting involved with the Young Writers Project, a Vermont-based nonprofit that helps young artists develop their crafts and find avenues for creative expression.

“Hawa, Lena, Balkisa and Kiran are radiant, powerful young women. They each bring such unique characteristics to the table,” YWP outreach coordinator Sarah Gliech told HuffPost.

For the four young women, slam poetry is a vehicle for discussing the issues and events in their lives ― many of which center around their Muslim American identity.

In their co-written poem, “Chameleon,” Waqar and Adam discuss the difficulty of navigating their racial, religious, ethnic and national identities, which sometimes feel at odds.

“We will never be white, only pretend to be. We hide behind fake mirrors and lies, unsure of who we really are,” the poem reads. “Am I African American or the other way around?” Adam says.

“Pakistani first? American?” Waqar says in the poem.

Learn more about Muslim Girls Making Change at Huffington Post.

Originally Published: July 26th, 2016