We met in 2012, or was it 2013? Sogand will most likely know. I met Sogand on a fine summer day at Capital Ex, better known as K-Days today. I remember the sun being out that day and I was with my girl Janet. I remember Janet stopping to greet her friends and her introducing me to them. Out of her squad, a young girl approached me with the biggest smile on her face. She told me she had seen me before and introduced herself as Sogand. A beautiful hijab covered her hair and she had a natural glow to her (this was before highlighter even existed). We immediately hit it off and what drew me to her even more was how welcoming she was, she gave me a hug afterwards and it gave me validation knowing that she was genuine. Years later, I am happy to call her one of my good friends for she kept that same energy from when I first met her that day. Sogand is an Iranian- Canadian who is passionate about not only her religion, but also when it comes to helping others for she currently works as an outreach worker at the Islamic Family and Social Services Association (IFSSA) and a student therapist at YWCA Edmonton. Sogand is a proud feminist who loves to lip-sync on her Instagram to Nicki Minaj and Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.” I met up with her in front of Edmonton’s Executive pinnacle aka what millennials refer to as “The Ledge.” She embraced her inner Jam Master Jay and rocked a pair of black Adidas sneakers with the three white stripes on the side in the children’s size. On her shirt was Martin Luther King’s face with the infamous quote “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” For those of you who have not met Sogand in person, I can assure that this sole sista exemplifies what it means to have soul for it shines through her words of empowerment, her love for her religion, her love for being a woman of color and for her willingness to help those around her. In celebration of the great Martin Luther King, Sogand and her sneakers have seen and walked to the promised land. Hope you’re in the mood for some positive vibes for Sogand is no stranger when it comes to supplying them. Assalamualaikum, Sogand! =)
1.) Where were you born?
I was born in Tehran, Iran in 1991.
2.) Tell me more about your religious background and why is it so important to you?
I identify as a Shia Muslim. My identity is shaped by my religious beliefs. I adhere strongly to the divine and the traditions of messengers of the divine. I love reading about other faiths and I thoroughly believe that we have more similarities than differences. I choose Shia Islam as it most completely demonstrates my ideologies but I take from teachings of every faith. Faith is important to me because it provides me with practicality, authenticity, generosity, curiosity, wisdom, grace and hopefulness. I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t religious.
3.) You are wearing a MLK shirt, tell me what is it about him that inspires you?
The Civil Rights Movement represents a radical response to systemic oppression. Regardless of how you identify yourself, as a minority of any sort, this movement should speak to you and your struggles. We are marginalized peoples as we don’t fit the status quo. We aren’t the elite and we definitely don’t fit the criteria of the mainstream society. We must then create our own lane and flourish there. MLK did just that. He was sacrificed for that. And how can I live not honouring this great personality who demonstrated that? As an activist, I revere MLK everyday and I feel like I owe it to him to do so.
4.) With all the tragic events taking place in the world right now, you share a lot of uplifting content on your Facebook and Instagram page. How are you able to remain so positive and optimistic through tough times?
I’m so often disheartened about what I see in the media. I want to portray something that is in profound contrast. And if I don’t see it, why can’t I create it? My social media is my platform where I project the positivity I wish I saw. It’s my space to speak on the issues that I wish were manifested in our daily conversations. I remain positive because my first and foremost audience is God and the messengers that God has blessed us with. I know in my heart that I’m spreading their wisdom by what I do. This gives me strength when I get approached with negativity as a response for my activity on social media. It is uplifting to know that I’m not doing it for the approval of human beings, but for God. That guides me. It motivates me. And I spread that kind of confident energy because God is my backbone and I receive it for the most part too.
5.) You’re an influential figure when it comes to women’s rights and empowerment, tell me why that is so important to your heart?
As a Muslim female working with domestic violence, I no longer want to just hurt for those who are oppressed. I’m choosing to transform this pain into a project. A project that will last a lifetime. A project that will stand in solidarity with my sisters, my brothers, and those who don’t conform to gender identity. There’s a lot of suffering in our world and if I can make it just a little bit better, I will.
6.) Moving on to sneakers, are you team Adidas or Nike?
Adidas all the way. I grew up with hip hop and rap and Adidas was always the brand represented by my idol minorities. I internalized this relationship and I stand by it to this day.
Source – Highsnobiety
7.) Do you think that women are misrepresented in sneaker culture?
I think there needs to be more diversity. Let’s put on some hijabi models that sport Adidas in the commercials too. I know Nike has begun this incorporation and I hope Adidas follows suit!
8.) What can the sneaker community do to ensure that women are included in the culture?
intersectionality. I can’t stress it enough. We don’t all look the same. We definitely don’t have the same story. So let’s stop putting the shoes on mainstream people with mainstream ideologies. Let’s break social barriers and include everyone!
9.) What’s it like to walk in your shoes?
It’s a world full of social conscientiousness. I walk knowing my time on here is limited. I walk recognizing that I’m accountable for how I use my time here. I am aware and awake. If I walk alone, it’s because I’m on a mission. If I walk beside, it’s only in solidarity.
10.) What can we expect from you in the future? (Discuss any upcoming protests, public speaking gigs, etc)
Your girl has a few speaking gigs coming up! I thoroughly love public speaking pertaining to topics such as feminism and religion. If there are such events, you can expect me there 🙂