In 2017, I collaborated with another photographer, Brittany Hathaway, to create portraits of those who have been verbally and physically attacked in America, especially after 9/11. Upon looking around we both realized that we didn't have any people in our circles that were Middle Eastern, Muslim, or Islamic. We wanted to change that. We wanted to learn what we could and engage in conversations that would educate us, and eventually others, on what our own microcosms lacked. Brittany photographed beautiful images while allowing the people in them to tell the world what they wanted to say. I photographed behind-the-scenes. We were welcomed in homes. We held events and attended others. This experience was priceless. After photographing over a hundred Muslim people, the project was received at the Massachusetts State House, The Uxbridge Library, The Forbes Library in Northampton with an interview with Monte in the Morning on 93.9 The River, in conjunction with the Attorney General Maura Healy at the John W. McCormack Building, The Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library, the Shrewsbury Public Library as a part of the Shrewsbury Diversity Coalition, and it was used to support curriculum at The Whitinsville Christian School.
In Brittany's words, "Our intention is to replicate the dialogue between two humans: face to face. To examine and listen without having to respond. My greatest hope for “Reframing Islam” is that audience members across all media platforms challenge their current understanding of the words “Muslim” and “Islam”; to ask questions, to relinquish fear of the unknown, and to develop acceptance.
The intention is to replicate the dialogue between two humans: face to face. By allowing audience members to fully engage with the series of intimate portraits of Muslim Americans, and their heartfelt personal statements to the world, the viewer is allowed and encouraged to suspend judgments and to listen without having to respond.
This photographic resolution is about human rights as much as it is about American rights. It’s about nurturing compassion and decency with our audience members; so that we can all remember that the United States of America is a country that welcomes diversity and celebrates the many cultures of its people."
Please click on the link below to visit her work and see the words of the individuals photographed.