The subject of women empowerment has become a burning topic, especially since the elections. Muqu Javad, a Washington based photographer, decided to use the power of images to tell the stories of women. “I’m a woman of color, i’m Muslim, I felt very marginalized in everything that was going on post-elections,” she said. “I wanted to show that I had a voice too, along with all these wonderful women, I wanted to share their amazing stories in hopes that they inspire you too.”
Soon after, the project expanded in Washington, she began photographing those who found solace in having their stories told. Her photo essay, Unapologetically She., aims to highlight the resilience of women.
“I believe that I am a product of all the hard work that my parents have put in to get me where I am today. But another factor that has shaped me almost as much has been moving to America. All of the experiences and life lessons I have gained here have made me a more caring, hard working and driven person. America is my home and I want to work everyday to give back and make it better as it has done for me.”
“I’m a Muslim woman of color in America at a time where all three of my intersecting identities are being threatened more than they ever have in my lifetime. My minority status is one of many complexities yet I understand my privilege within these groups. My status as an American means more to me than my citizenship; it means I have power and leverage to incite change and provide perspective. I’m not a social activist, I’m not a public figure, I wasn’t born knowing how many years it would take me to find myself (I still haven’t). I’m an artist and a design student, despite my mother’s lifelong wishes and prayers that her youngest child would become a doctor, but above all I’m a Muslim woman of color. That is an identity I wear proudly on my sleeve and could never cast aside, and with that I live my life day by day, rejecting norms and asserting my independence, my individuality, my free mind, and my growing creativity.”
“As an immigrant, a mom and an educator, I recognize that education is a privilege that allows one to transcend the limitations of societal, economic and racial boundaries. My objective is to provide my students with an experience that maximizes learning, discovery and growth within a connected school community. My hope that by creating this community, I enable the adults of tomorrow to maximize their potential as morally upright, contributing members of a global populace.”
“For most of my life I've felt a little bit awkward, a square peg in a round hole. But I always had this idea of a place where I could be myself in all my eccentric glory and thrive. In moving to America I found that place. In my career as a software engineer I was able to combine my passion for technology and a lifelong love of learning that has served me well. In my personal life I have made empowered choices that have enabled me to continue the pursuit of my dreams. I am a born optimist who feels deeply and has big audacious dreams. I strive for a future which is ever more equal than the present. I want to combine my skills in technology with my desire to make the world a better place. That is my American dream.”
“ Reading has always been my favorite activity and escape. Dystopian literature and fantasy are my favorite genres because even in the most horrible imaginings of the future, there are always groups of individuals who fight and rebel, usually at great personal risk. I really believe that the instinct to protect each other is a natural human urge that a lot of us are taught to suppress, because it can be painful to reconcile another’s suffering with the knowledge that we have never or will never experience that kind of suffering. One of the things I love so much about books is that you experience the world through someone else’s perspective and live in someone else’s brain. That kind of exposure to alternative circumstance is important to true cooperation and coexistence.I think the whole ideal of "the melting pot" is probably what makes me most proud to be an American. We are a country full of individuals with very different histories, life experiences, and perceptions of reality. And yet, when we live side by side and learn to appreciate each other for our similarities as well as our differences, truly beautiful things can happen. It's a challenging ideal to live up to and we certainly have a long way to go, but it's something worth fighting for.”