I stumbled on The Tempest through Facebook, and that seems to be the common story with much of my friends, too.
It passed along by word of mouth that someone out there was showcasing stories by Muslim women, and the excitement was infectious. I followed along with the articles and laughed at all the “controversy” and debates happening in the comments.
Regardless of whether or not people were on the same page about the articles, Muslim women were at the center of the conversation and it was so refreshing. There was a sense of agency to it that I craved for myself.
I had just started my first year in college at the time when Laila Alawa reached out to me in a Facebook chat. She approached me with the opportunity to do comics for what was then Coming of Faith, putting me at the front lines of their humor section.
I was floored with this chance.
It was my first real job as an artist, even when I couldn’t see myself as one. It was all very intimidating and exciting at the same time. I’m a pretty confident person, but I was in a weird place with my art. For something I could pour hours and hours into in one sitting, I was pretty insecure about my work.
When The Tempest says they want to make a platform for minority women, they mean it.
I was ridiculously lucky to work combining my great loves in life: coming up with bad jokes, snarky feminist commentary, and art. That opportunity gave me confidence in my work. People like Laila and my endlessly patient editor Najira know that there is no room for self-deprecating attitudes in an industry that will downplay the efforts of women like me anyway, and the last thing I should do is contribute to that.
Plus, when it’s your own comic that is being shared 150,000 times on Tumblr, not to mention tens of thousands of shares on Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook/Instagram? That helps your self-confidence a bit, too.
This all occurred around the same time that I dropped my plans to be a psychology major and dove headfirst into illustration. I didn’t do it just because I got an inflated ego after a couple of viral posts, but because The Tempest helped show me that the audience is out there, and I just needed to speak up a little louder.
Now my hope is that other women can come to know this too.