Rawand Mustafa is a Palestinian Syrian student living in Canada. She has recently graduated from the University of Windsor's English and Creative Writing program. During her degree, she conducted English research as an Outstanding Scholar and received the Edith Bowlby Scholarship in Creative Writing. She has been accepted into the University of Windsor's MA program for English and Creative Writing, for which she received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Rawand draws inspiration for her writing from her experiences as a first-generation immigrant oscillating between Eastern and Western cultures, and she is particularly impassioned by the struggles and resilience of Palestinian and Syrian refugees.
“Feed” speaks to the danger of developing a warped view of an entire country (Syria, in this case) or its people due to the consumption of single-view media sources. While it’s important to acknowledge the real tragedies that have occurred and are occurring in Syria, it’s essential to learn about the resilience of Syrian people and the everlasting beauty that flourishes in Syrian streets. The three questions following “People also ask” were retrieved from the Google search suggestions upon searching “Syria.” Starting with “Grisly Killing in Syria Spawns Legal Case Against Russian Mercenaries”, every other line in the poem is the title of a 2021 news article retrieved from The New York Times, CTV News, Al Jazeera, The Indian Express, CBC News, The Guardian, BBC News, and The Arab Weekly, respectively.
This piece speaks to the frustration of non-English speakers communicating in English, particularly focusing on the frustration of refugees who, on top of carrying the trauma of war, persecution, natural disaster, or alienation, struggle to express that trauma in a foreign language. The use of idioms is commonly considered a hallmark of language proficiency and their manipulation in this piece depicts the struggle to communicate through the figurative lens of western perception. The crossed-out expressions are representative of another barrier that is overcome by the refugee speaker in their struggle for self-advocacy and self-actualization.
The painting is a re-creation of a powerful image of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X). The unity of the diverse shapes and colours coupled with the unwavering determination in Malcom’s pensive eyes reflect Malcolm’s own principles as an African-American Muslim activist; he believed in the unity of humanity and particularly fought for unpopular causes including the oppression of African-Americans, Vietnamese, and Palestinians. Created in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, this painting evokes Malcom’s unapologetic pursuit of justice.