Abdullah Dahduli wants to say "Hello." You see, Abdullah, or Aye-D as he is known in the musical world, is a Muslim-American — he's also an ethnic Palestinian, a proud Texan and an Aries. Over the span of his 29-year existence, Aye-D says he's witnessed attacks on his friends, family and others who share his religion. But rather than allow the negativity to get the better of him, he is using it to start a conversation about Islamophobia.
Following the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris last November, many xenophobes began spewing their anti-Muslim rhetoric like there was no tomorrow. Presidential candidate Donald Trump took things a step further by calling for an all-out ban on Muslims entering the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
Shortly thereafter, it became all too normal to see anti-Muslim protesters hanging around mosques and Islamic centers. "That was crazy. Basically, these people were lined up on the curb, screaming out racial slurs," Aye-D recalls. "I’ve felt hate before, but not to my face like that. That builds up a certain feeling of, 'Man, we’ve got to do something.'”
Around the same time, he was working on a new mixtape and began to funnel his frustration into something he hoped would give a voice to Muslims everywhere. The product of that effort was a project he dubbed "Colorblind," which is an emotionally-charged anthem eloquently articulating the absurdity of not just Islamophobia, but racism as well. "I started writing 'Colorblind' when the Islamic hate escalated with Donald Trump’s motivation to all of these people," Aye-D says. "He made it acceptable."
Once he had the lyrics down, he knew he needed to put them against unforgettable beats. The result was a cover of sorts of Adele's "Hello" and Tupac's "Thugz Mansion." Then, along with Clear Motion Films' Rahim Handy, Aye-D put together a commanding visual representation of "Colorblind." The video includes various people, including Aye-D, mouthing the lyrics to the song, backed by powerful imagery of Islamophobia, Syrian refugees and Muslims walking and volunteering.
While he insists he's no activist, Aye-D admits that what he was witnessing bothered him — moreover, it made him fearful for his friends and family. He says several of his friends, who are also Muslim, have been verbally attacked for simply looking a certain way. “That’s not what America is," he says. "Everybody is supposed to be welcome here.”
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That said, to Aye-D, the answer is simple: Start the conversation by helping to remind people what humanizes them. “Sometimes people will be too shy to ask me questions," he says. "They think they might be disrespectful, but there’s no disrespect. I’d rather you ask me questions instead of formulating your own opinion from what you hear from stereotypes.”
The biggest disconnect, Aye-D believes, comes from a clear misunderstanding of the Muslim faith by non-Muslims, as well as misunderstandings by those who purport to be Muslim. “Most, if not all, terrorism is not fueled by religion, it’s fueled from hate," Aye-D says. "It’s fueled from the war-torn environments that they’re from."
Up until this point, Aye-D's musical career has been under the radar, but he hopes that's all about to change. Currently, the young rapper is working with local producer J. Rhodes on his new album, which is set to drop within the next couple months. Additionally, he has been working with Dallas filmmaker Jeff Adair for the past nine months on his next music video, titled "Something Ain't Right," another socially conscious exposé highlighting Islamophobia, Black Lives Matter and equality.
For now, though, Aye-D remains focused — but he has some advice for anyone faced with discrimination or hate. “Be patient. Stay calm," he says. "Because that’s the way to get your message across. That’s your opportunity to inform.”