It all started when...
I volunteered for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008. I wasn't even old enough to vote for him but I knew I had to do my part to represent the underserved and fight for democracy.
My calling and passion for justice were inspired by my parent's hardships. My Palestinian Muslim father and Jewish mother met in a small southern town that did not embrace our diversity. They worked hard to overcome stigma and became small business owners.
Their first business was threatened by the KKK and eventually burned down due to an "unknown" cause. But- they persevered and tried again. They started a new local restaurant in my small southern hometown and during my childhood, I helped my parents by working at the business. Although, that wouldn't last for long because after 9/11 the restaurant suffered an almost total loss of its previously loyal customer base. My family was continuously victim to racist remarks and lost our good faith within our community.
We eventually grew tired of intolerance and moved to Northern Virginia, on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun County. We were welcomed and accepted as the multicultural, multireligious, family that we are.
My family’s struggles inspired me to work hard, first as an undergrad at American University, and then as the recipient of Master’s degrees in Public Health from George Mason and Social Work from Columbia University.
As a first generation American with Muslim and Jewish roots and a passion for serving my community, the 2016 election was deeply personal to me. I followed the polls closely and expected to see the first woman president come January 2017. On election night 2016, I was selected to be one of the lucky few sitting in the Javits Center about 100 feet behind the platform where Hillary Clinton would have spoken had she won. Like so many that night, I left devastated.
As the months have gone by I've marched with women and scientist, against climate change, and for human rights. I've protested at JFK during the Muslim ban and made countless calls to my representatives to save our healthcare.
Most recently, I ran for public office in Virginia's 67th district. I was the first Muslim-Jewish woman in the United States to run for public office and I hope to inspire more young people and underrepresented groups to demand that our voices are heard and valued.
Under a Trump presidency, I’ve witnessed – and experienced – the growing level of discrimination for immigrants and others who don’t represent the narrowest of American ideals....
And I'm fighting back.