Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed, a community organizer and writer who co-hosts the “#GoodMuslimBadMuslim” podcast, created the Valentine’s Day card series. She told Colorlines that she first started making and selling them to challenge Islamophobic media portrayals. She highlights the stereotypes that “all Muslims need to get arranged marriages,” as well as “the certain polite, respectability politics-way of Muslim women having to project themselves in public,” as examples.
While she intended to table the project this year, Donald Trump’s election compelled her to create again. “Now, it’s about pushing back on how the White House is perceiving Muslims,” she says.
Ahmed aims to make the cards specific to each year’s political atmosphere. She says that a card from the first year about TSA scanning machines was her most popular at the time. “But I don’t think that card would really resonate now,” she explains. To that end, this year’s collection plays off the aforementioned “extreme vetting” and registry controversies, as well as concerns about future internment camps. Here are photos of the full fifth collection:
Ahmed says that she has received pushback on some of the cards, including from other Muslims who believe their topics are too real, recent and painful to be joked about. Nonetheless, she believes in the project’s importance now more than ever. “A lot of people say it’s ‘too soon,’ and I think that’s exactly why we need to disrupt these narratives now,” she explains. “The card series isn’t a tool to joke about things after they’ve calmed down. It’s a tool to spark fires, to excite us, to move us forward into resisting. We don’t wait until things are calm for that.”
The cards are available on Ahmed’s Etsy page.