Rhea Williams

Donor Services Assistant

I was born and raised in San Ramon, California and graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara. Before joining Sojourners as the Donor Services Assistant, I spent my final semester in the Downtown Program for Social Entrepreneurship learning how to engage with social injustices in the local community, and interning at the County of Santa Barbara to develop grant-funded educational programing for unemployed community members.

After studying abroad in Turkey, Egypt, and Israel-Palestine in 2016, I came back to the US with a greater understanding of my own identity as a first generation Indian-American woman. This spurred my interest in implicit bias, prejudice, and colorblind racial attitudes in the context of the Church, and I found myself drawn to this work both in the Psychology Department as well as in Residence Life.

Although I grew up in the Pentecostal tradition, I have recently gravitated towards more contemplative streams of Christianity, and I love learning about interdenominational spiritual disciplines! Outside of the office you can find me leading worship on the piano, listening to podcasts about cults, or on the lookout for the best carrot cake in town.

To my “Cloud of Witnesses” that have come before me, shaped me, prayed for me; Indian Community Church of the Valley, Valley Christian Center, Westmont and the greater Santa Barbara Area-thank you for teaching me to think, feel, and love deeply. And of course, my mom, dad, and sister, who humble me with the reminder that peacemaking and justice-seeking begin within the family.

Posts By This Author

Beautiful Barbarians

by Rhea Williams 12-28-2018
A review of ‘Barbarican,’ by Mona Haydar.

Feda Eid

SYRIAN. AMERICAN. Muslim. Woman. These distinctions of religion, geography, and gender are sometimes considered worlds of their own, but rapper Mona Haydar is used to navigating between them as a daughter of Syrian immigrants to the U.S. who grew up in Flint, Mich. Her experiences of embodying a multicultural identity in a country teeming with bigotry are the basis of her new EP, Barbarican, a collection of powerful songs that challenge rigid notions about who gets to consider themselves American and who gets left out and called a barbarian.

Haydar emerged onto the music scene in March 2017 when she released a colorful music video for her song “Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab).” The video featured her, eight months pregnant, surrounded by hijab-clad women as she rapped about diversity and the freedom to practice hijab, an often-criticized tradition in the West. Billboard named “Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)” one of the best protest songs of 2017, creating anticipation for more music from Haydar. With Barbarican, Haydar has delivered a searing follow-up.

Opening with the line, “If they’re civilized, I’d rather stay savage,” Barbarican celebrates the colonized, specifically those who have suffered from the racist equating of “brown” and “black” to “backward” and “barbarian,” and “modern” to “white.”

In the song “Barbarian,” Haydar examines the ways in which colonialism seeps into the minds of people of color, teaching them to hate aspects of themselves. With dynamic beats and catchy refrains, she creatively subverts colonialism by using its own words against it. Haydar even fights stigma surrounding mental health, by wrestling with both her experience of postpartum depression in her song “Lifted” and her reaction to the suicide of a friend in “Suicide Doors,” which features singer-songwriter Drea d’Nur.

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