Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Mona Haydar says her second language was poetry. Now an adult with children, the singer has translated that passion into music — with an activist slant. As the Muslim daughter of Syrian immigrants, Haydar is heavily influenced by religion and injustice, and her new song "Dog," particularly, focuses on the idea of global patriarchy.
"Especially with what’s going on in the world right now, I felt that this was such an important time to be speaking up and speaking truth to power," she told Refinery29 about the song and music video, which features Orange Is The New Black's Jackie Cruz. "It’s the job of the artist, the activist, of any conscious human being to put their energy towards re-taking that narrative, saying, you know, 'This is what’s true for me,' and to tell our stories in the most beautiful way so that the truth can be known."
For Haydar, music is about making the world a better place, and that mantra is behind every one of her artistic decisions, whether that's a song debunking the stigma surrounding hijabs or her latest takedown of the male gaze and entitlement.
"Panel on women / Only dudes," one line reads. "Um, excuse me / Really? Rude."
"Hopefully it creates a space where women and people who have been victimized and abused by those in positions of religious authority can feel safe to speak up," the artist said of the song and video, which features the two women rapping in a library. "I’m talking about a heavy topic this time, but I’m doing it in such a way that’s making it open and gentle for those who have experienced that."
It's not a laundry list of complaints, but an anthem. It's something to sing to yourself when you need that extra bit of feminist oomph to get through your day.
"We’re done with the culture of shame and victim blaming," Haydar concluded. "That’s what’s going to change the world."