FannBoy Friday with Shahjehan Khan: Podcaster and Activist Saadia Khan

FannBoy Friday with Shahjehan Khan: Podcaster and Activist Saadia Khan

This week’s FannBoy Friday features longtime Rifelion collaborator (and my former co-host!!) Saadia Khan.

“Saadia Khan is a Pakistani American immigrant, human rights activist, and social entrepreneur. A graduate of Columbia University’s Masters program in Human Rights Studies, Saadia has worked with UN Women and other UN entities representing civil society organizations. Previously, she worked as an interpreter for Human Rights First. She is also the board member of Hearts & Homes for Refugees, a nonprofit organization that works with the U.S. Department of State to welcome refugees. She writes for publications including Brown Girl Magazine, the Globe Post, and Medium” (https://www.yesmagazine.org/authors/saadia-khan). Most recently, Saadia is the co-host of “Invisible Hate,” a podcast about underreported hate crimes in the U.S. 

I wanted to launch a true crime [podcast] that has a purpose, that doesn’t commercialize or exploit crimes that have been perpetrated, especially against minority groups.

– Saadia Khan

I first met Saadia when I reached out to her during our initial marketing push for “King of the World,” and she was the first person to have me as a guest on her podcast “Immigrantly.” We had so much fun that I ended up co-hosting season 13 of the show, so I’m really glad to be the one interviewing her this time!

(Saadia’s interview has been edited for length and clarity)


Shahjehan: What is the “Invisible Hate” podcast?

Saadia: “Invisible Hate Podcast” is a true crime podcast with purpose. We focus on hate crimes committed against minorities. Every week we pick a hate crime [or] possible hate crime, and we do a deep dive. And then at the end of each episode, Asad Butt, who is my co-host [and] co-producer for this podcast, we deliberate whether or not it is a hate crime. 

Shahjehan: Why did you and Asad decide to do a crime podcast?

Saadia: So, as you know, I am a huge true crime podcast fan and I’ve listened to a bunch, from “Crime Junkie” (which is a bit controversial), to “Morbid,” to so many others. … I wanted to launch a true crime [podcast] that has a purpose, that doesn’t commercialize or exploit crimes that have been perpetrated, especially against minority groups. In this ecosystem we don’t see a lot of people talking specifically about [this]. … I don’t even think there is a true crime podcast that specifically focuses on hate crimes. I may be wrong, I may have missed it, but that was the idea and that’s how this came about. It is also an extension of “Immigrantly’s” mission (my other podcast) to amplify voices that need to be heard, but in a very respectful way.

Shahjehan: Do you have a particular audience in mind for “Invisible Hate”?

Honestly, anybody who is interested in true crimes, but also interested in knowing more about how minorities are treated in America. This podcast is so much more than just true crime; we will talk about different minority groups—how they are targeted, how they are villainized, how they are hatecrimed.

And I say this often: you don’t have to be in a war zone to be hatecrimed. It’s happening in America. People don’t talk about it as much. A lot of people don’t even know about it, so we are trying to raise awareness around how minorities are targeted on a regular basis, and I hope there is an audience out there that’s more intentional and aware and wants to know more.

We also will be sharing resources at the end of each episode so that people can go and help victims [and their families] in some way. So … anybody out there who is aware and more intentional and wants to help out, this is the podcast for them.

Shahjehan: Here’s a question that just popped into my head…

Saadia: Okay, knowing you I’m not surprised!

Shahjehan: What’s the first time you remember hearing about a hate crime? 

I don’t remember the first time, but … I’ve always been almost scared of being hatecrimed. Thankfully, so far I haven’t, but there’ve been so many instances of microaggressions and maybe that led me to also look into creating something along these lines. … Our identities are pretty politicized in America, so every time we go out there is this fear that people, based on our appearance or our accent or who we are, may react a certain way. 

I remember something that once somebody said to my daughter, and I don’t think it was a hate crime, but it was a huge microaggression and I’ve not been able to get over it. My daughter was only 11, she was in sixth grade and somebody called her “Queen of Taliban” for being [a] kid of Pakistani parents. That’s the only reason she was called this. I think it is so important to amplify these stories. Because of how minorities are treated in America, it’s not talked about as much or as often as it should.

Shahjehan: Can you talk a little bit about the show’s format? How did you develop it and why?

It’s a narrative style where we just share facts in the beginning [about] the crime that was perpetrated. … Then at the end, we deliberate whether it was a hate crime or not. We also talk more about victims than perpetrators because we want to celebrate their lives and who they were … and lives lost. We’ll [also] cover hate crimes where people were not eventually murdered, but were targeted and they survived. So it’s also a story of survival, through [the] power of storytelling.

We do research to see which crimes we want to cover. Then we do a thorough back and forth; Asad and I talk about whatever that hate crime is. … We discuss how we want to cover it, how we want to honor the victims; that is at the core of this podcast, and I can’t stress it enough. 

In the end then we share resources, which is as important as telling the story.

Shahjehan: What are some of your favorite Muslim or Muslim-adjacent podcasts?

Shahjehan, If you don’t know about this podcast, you should absolutely listen to it (wink). It’s called “King of the World.” It’s one of my favorite, favorite podcasts, something that I listened to with my daughter who is second gen, and who could relate to it so much.

I also like “Tell Them I Am” by Misha Euceph. I’ve listened to quite a few episodes … and it’s amazing. It just blew my mind. … She does such an incredible job of telling stories in a way where they really resonate with the listeners.

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