Episode Description

Fadilah reflects on her experiences navigating life, study, and the industry of design & art as a woman of colour, and establishing herself as a digital artist over the past decade.  

About Fadilah: 

Fadilah is a Digital Artist based in Sydney, Australia and has been practicing her craft for over 10 years. Her work is a window into her experience as a female, muslim first-generation migrant living in suburban Australia. First and foremost, she is inspired by community. 

Produced by Aamon Sayed 

Aamon has worked within the Social Work sector since 2012. His work experience adds sensitivity to interviews to create them in a culturally safe setting. As a podcast producer, Aamon explores the human condition, and how to make the world a more positive place through his podcast series AddLOVE. 

Aamon’s latest creative project is Untold Stories a photography series. To get involved follow Untold Stories on Instagram. 


Note: This transcript is automatically generated, and may contain errors.

Aamon Sayed
My name is Aamon Sayed and welcome to another episode of the Stories of Community Resilience Podcast by 3ZZZ. On this episode of the show, I’ll be speaking with Fadilah about her experience of resilience and in particular what her existence is like being
a woman and person of color. Before I start, I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and recognize that as we capture stories here today, the indigenous people have been storytelling on this land for thousands of years. It always was and always will be. Aboriginal land. Welcome, Fadilah.

Fadilah Mahmud
Hi. Thank you for welcoming me to the show.

Aamon Sayed
Thank you for being here. We obviously work very close together, you being the producer of the AddLove Podcast. Um. So I find the
topic very interesting and I always love having these conversations with you outside of these projects, but it’s great to have you on board for for the project. I wanted to start by talking about the time that you started becoming aware of your existence as a woman
and as a person of color.

Fadilah Mahmud
I guess living in the community that we grew up in – I guess it was a very marginalized community and I didn’t realize how different I was until I started interacting with people outside of my bubble. Outside of my circle and that included, you know, people that weren’t of color, people that I met in uni, people that I work with. And the way that I was treated amongst people that looked like me and the way I was treated amongst people that didn’t look like me was a very interesting experience.

Aamon Sayed
What were some of the things that you were noticing?

Fadilah Mahmud
It was mostly things regarding microaggressions and the things people would say regarding what I wore. I’m visibly Muslim. I wear a hijab, and people would make certain comments about what I wore. It mostly came from a place of ignorance, not malice, but certain things, comments like that didn’t necessarily offend me, but it did open my eyes a little bit to the difference in my identity in contrast to
others. I studied and I worked in a field that was predominantly white, even probably could even say predominantly male. I was very much a fish out of water and, um, I very much stood out and that’s not easy, even in the best of circumstances. Um, it can get very lonely. I’ve been in design and art for the last ten or so years, and I guess ten years ago we would not be having this conversation
about diversity. We would not be having this conversation about being a person of color on a platform like this. It’s definitely been an uphill battle, something, a battle that I felt like I was fighting alone up until recently.

Aamon Sayed
So before you got to the point where you’re at now, which I’m guessing is much more knowledgeable and much more in depth in terms of like some of the problems and some of the solutions. Just going back to that time that you started experiencing those microaggressions and the, I guess almost like an alienation. How were you responding and what were some of the like responses
you had like physically, verbally, Like what were some of the, like, how were you reacting to that treatment ten years ago?

Fadilah Mahmud
Well, I was very young. I was in uni, I was straight out of uni. And I was I the the experience of being isolated was very new to me. And my reaction was came from a place of fear of making other people uncomfortable. So I would brush things off even if they bothered
me. I would disregard certain comments and I wouldn’t address them directly and it’s, I fought so hard to be a part of this space that I didn’t want to rock the boat or do anything to disturb that in particular. I just didn’t want to make trouble. So I just kept things to myself
and I. And I pretty much Yeah. Made myself a more a more agreeable, I guess, person of color. Just so I could earn my place within this space, within the art space, within the design space. and that’s pretty much been my experience.

Aamon Sayed
Can you tell me a little bit more about the journey from where you were to where you are now?

Fadilah Mahmud
Where I was when I first started my journey was definitely a position of survival. I wasn’t confident in myself, not in my skill as an artist
or my vision. I wasn’t confident in myself as a person, as a human. I didn’t feel like I had a right to sort of exist in this space that I felt like I had no place in and. I. I didn’t feel like I felt like I had to be invited into that space. I didn’t feel like I could earn that space within my own right. If that makes sense. A lot of that came from a place of fear. And I operated like that for a while. And you do
that for so long in your career, it starts trickling down into your personal life. Um, the way the behavior, the mentality, it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist in isolation to your career or your work. It starts infiltrating other parts of your life. And I started to notice that in my relationships, I started to notice that in my personal life and everything just started mirroring that because my work is takes a huge
portion of my life. Um, and it did for a while. I was very much a career driven person because I fought so hard to get into the line of work that I have and I fought so hard to earn my place in this industry as a person of colour, and as a woman.

Fadilah Mahmud
I would never have imagined that I would be in a position I am now. This is like probably if you had told me that I would be working in a, in the biggest industry in the world, working for the oldest airline in the country, in the world, even I would. I would call you crazy
like this. Like what? I’m my reality right now is was a fantasy five years ago. Um, and that’s I say that because, I never imagined as a when I was young, I never imagined I would live an extraordinary life. You know, I lived as if I lived a life where I thought I would hit certain milestones. I would follow a path that was paved for me, essentially, and never did I think I would stray from that path. And to
get here has been a mission, a fulfilling mission. But it wasn’t easy. Yes, I would say. My position now is probably coming from a place of confidence because of those struggles, because of what I’ve experienced, and it made me stronger, but it also made me more aware and it made me more informed and it made me more proactive about my approach as opposed to reactive. At this point,
I’m like learning how to sort of, um, exercise a bit more critical thinking in the way I respond to certain, certain people, certainsituations. And when I was younger, I didn’t have that because I had no no one to turn to. I had no role model. I had no one had been
where I had been. Um, so I had to learn and I made mistakes and I made mistakes that, you know, that I’m still learning from to this day. I’m grateful for that. I’m so, so grateful. you know, I used to think that I used to think I used to regret reacting. I used to regret the being the young person that I was because I felt that she was so young and so stupid and so naive. But now I look back and I’m like, she’s. She’s a survivor. Like, she’s. She was a little pocket rocket. She, you know, she fought those battles so I could be here. Um, and I’m like, so like, it’s weird to think of your younger self as like, a separate person, but
I’m so, like, proud of her, and I’m so thankful for her. That that would be the difference between the beginning of my journey and now.

Aamon Sayed
Do you have some words of advice for other women or people of color who find themselves in similar situations now? You’ve given some advice, I guess, indirectly in terms of like how you grew and use those experiences to create like a positive experience for yourself. But do you have any direct advice for those that might find themselves in the same situation?

Fadilah Mahmud
You are entitled to respect. You don’t have to earn it. You’re a human being and you’re entitled to the respect that others should be giving you. And be unapologetic and have conviction and. If you believe that you have a you deserve to be in the position that you’re in, then that’s all you need. You don’t need other people’s validation. Again be be very, very unapologetic. and fake it till you make it.

Aamon Sayed
Well, Fadilah, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Experiences. Appreciate your time.

Fadilah Mahmud
Thank you, so much.


To share your story contact Rebecca at [email protected]