From launching one of the most popular blog sites for Muslim girls at the age of 17 years old to being the youngest candidate to run for Congress in New Jersey, Amani al-Khatahtbeh is a force to be reckoned with.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with al-Khatahtbeh to learn more about the growth of MuslimGirl.com, her experiences running for Congress and the release of her new podcast ANTIDOTE.
Growing up post-9/11, al-Khatahtbeh witnessed the shift of public perception of the Muslim identity and the first wave of Islamophobia. She found it increasingly difficult to find a safe space to dive into issues relevant to her, so she took to the internet to create MuslimGirl.com, a community where young women and girls can connect through shared experiences.
“We have always said that MuslimGirl is simply a reflection of the Muslim women and girls who make it up. So I think the reason why MuslimGirl has been so successful as a platform is simply because we stayed true to who we are,” al-Khatahtbeh said. “The whole idea is for us to lead the conversations that are directly impacting us, the conversations that we are at the center of. In order to do that, the most important thing is to pass the mic to the many different narratives and experiences that make up who we are.”
Staying true to her mission of bringing fresh perspectives to traditional institutions, al-Khatahtbeh also ran for New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District earlier this year. The main driving force of her campaign was built off of years of feeling disillusioned by a system that actively suppressed voices of underrepresented groups.
“The biggest lesson that I learned in cannon-balling into the system and trying to change the mechanics of it … is that the powers are counting on us to feel that way. They want us to take a step back from the system and not engage with it and feel disempowered and alienated,” al-Khatahtbeh said. “Because they know that if we awaken to the reality of the situation, if we all did vote the way that we wanted to, those in power are going to end up losing that power.”
Although al-Khatahtbeh was unable to secure the win, she continues to remain relevant in the political sphere with her new podcast “ANTIDOTE by Amani.”
She was inspired to venture into the world of podcasting by the young people who she got to work with and talk to through her campaign. She described her new podcast as “a culture and politics podcast for millennials and (Generation) Z's, where we search for the cure to viral social issues.”
In her first episode, she spoke with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), the first Black congresswoman from Massachusetts, to talk about the upcoming election and the power of voting. Future podcasts will focus on more conversations with political leaders and changemakers to hear what’s important.
al-Khatahtbeh also spoke about how the podcast is extremely personal to her, a way to start important conversations with the people who are challenging the normalities of the political system.
She explained how the cover art of the podcast is a vital part to how she felt during her congressional race, describing it as, “a tug and pull where I had to choose between my identities of expressing myself versus playing by the rules of the system which wasn't made for me in the first place.”
Her second episode of the podcast was released on Oct. 26, where she spoke with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) about the state of progressive values in the 2020 election.
Finally, we asked al-Khatahtbeh about her advice for other people like her who are trying to speak up and evoke change but may be afraid to do so. al-Khatahtbeh said to “never underestimate your impact or the value of you speaking up.”
She said that at the end of the day, everyone should ask themselves what resources they have available and what privileges they are blessed with to evoke change.