Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian American activist with palsy whose comedy and acting work has been about “bringing a human face to Arab Muslim women.” She was the first comedian to perform stand-up live in Palestine. After 9/11 she felt it was important to counter the images of Islam, Arabs, and Arab Americans in NYC and the nation as a whole, so she started the Annual New York Arab American Comedy Festival with a fellow comedian. The show highlights the diversity of the Arab community and features as many female comedians as possible. All though it has been criticized for having sexist comedians in its line up, its impact has been appreciated by both Arab and Arab American women who see Zayid as an important voice in changing the image of Muslim & Arab women and in highlighting the normalcy of their lives. Zayid is also a child advocate.
In 2001 she founded Palestinian based Maysoon’s Kids which works to support disabled and refugee youth living in camps with medical care, clothing, and social programs. In order to support local products, all of the resources provided are made in the country. She works there 3 months of the year running art programs out of 11 different camps. She is also currently promoting youth education by providing tutors for high school completion and creating a donor base to send youth to college.
If you would like to support her efforts, you can donate: here.
Zayid has said that all of her work has been about “supporting positive images of Muslim women” and ensuring equality for the marginalized.
Here is a sneak peek at her upcoming release Little AMerican Whore, which explores Palestinian women’s roles in Palestine and the U.S. from a comedic perspective: