July 20, 2019


Trump's Attacks Will Not Stop Me (Salma Elsayed, July 20, 2019, The New York Times)

On Nov. 7, 2018, I woke up to some astounding news: Two Muslim women had been elected to the House of Representatives. And in my Queens district, a young progressive, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had defeated our longtime congressman, went on to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. At that moment, seeing what women like me were able to achieve, I became convinced that my own political aspirations could become a reality.

This week, I watched in horror as President Trump escalated attacks on one of those new Muslim congresswomen, Ilhan Omar, at a campaign rally in North Carolina, including falsely accusing her of being a supporter of Al Qaeda, as audience members chanted "Send her back." Ms. Omar responded eloquently to his vicious attacks, tweeting, "I am where I belong, at the people's house and you're just gonna have to deal!" But I worry about those chants turning into something more sinister.

When I was growing up, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I was surrounded by many women in medicine with a similar background to mine: My doctor was a Muslim woman, and many of the older Muslim girls I knew were aspiring physicians, nurses or pharmacists. There were no Muslim politicians for me to look up to, so I did not even consider that career path as an option.

Then in January 2018 I was invited to go to the Women's March with Seventeen magazine. I was 16 at the time and it was inspiring to meet everyday Americans turned activists, actresses, politicians -- some of them Muslim, like me. As I reflected on my experience at the march, I began to think that maybe I could be a force for change. I felt compelled to do something about the systems put in place that hurt me as a low-income, Muslim, Arab-American woman and others like myself. I wanted to help those both within and outside my community.

The future looks like the Squad, not the Proud Boys.

Posted by at July 20, 2019 12:26 PM