Mona Haydar’s family had some advice for her: “If you want to be taken seriously as an academic, you can’t be rapping.” Haydar — a 30-year-old Syrian-American activist, poet and mother of two from Flint, Michigan — holds a Masters degree in Christian Ethics plus a forthcoming EP where she raps about Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Travel Ban.
Haydar first gained national attention for her viral music video and track Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab). Paper magazine calls it an “intimate, Lemonade-esque video featuring Haydar eight months pregnant rapping about her pride in her identity, clapping back against Islamophobia and the backwards-feminist notions that a hijab is oppressive, alongside diverse chorus of Muslim women dancing, grooving, and expressing anger and joy together.”
Her new EP is called “Barbarican” (see video of title track) and Haydar says “it’s a play on American, Puerto Rican, African [as] we are ‘others’ so we are Barbaricans. It’s just a way to say, ‘We’re here and we’re going to turn up and enjoy life and talk about our pain, struggles, and traumas.'”
“One of my major goals,” says the rapper, “has been to say that we are going to turn up and have a good time in spite of those who hate us, in spite of those who don’t want us around, in spite of the oppression, in spite of all it, we’re going to live out loud, with joy and love.”