Friday, January 20, 2017

My President

I remember the night clearly when President Obama was elected in 2008. I was 24 years old, less jaded and felt so much hope for the future. I  had never been inspired by a political figure until I started following the Obama campaign and he sparked a sense of urgency within me--I wanted to do more, work harder, and give back. I recall waiting patiently for the results to return and holding my breath that we, citizen's of the United States of America would elect our first black president. And we did, and I have never been so proud of our country. I cried and I could feel the momentum of progress deep within my bones.

When I was 12 years old, my family left the Middle East and moved to the Deep South. Some of the most painful experiences of  my life happened at a young age and my experiences are no where close to what others have experienced.  I was clearly different from my classmates and it was pointed out to me several times. GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM. YOU DON'T BELONG HERE. And when someone spat in my face and called me a sand n*** I was confused and traumatized. I remember going home and asking my mom what that word meant and before I could clarify that someone had called me that she had grabbed me by the arm and scolded me "DON'T YOU EVER SAY THAT AGAIN!"

When President Obama was elected to be the first black president of the United States, I felt so much hope and courage. Our nation was stepping away from racism and my future children will live in a much different world than I did.

President Obama taught me to have courage, my voice matters, and it is a great responsibility to fight for the underserved. Because of him I am no longer afraid to say that I am feminist (the patriarchy really ingrained in me that was a dirty word!).  I left my corporate job to work in the nonprofit world because I was inspired by his service and I believed that I needed to be involved in something bigger than myself. He was an incredible example of marriage and what a parent should be like. He believed in equality for all and changed the lives of many Americans. The lives of LGBTQ citizens are better because of his fight, women's issues and rights were at the center of his Administration, healthcare for those who were previously denied access to, took on the challenge of climate change, a proponent for immigration and refugee reform,  rejected discrimination against Muslims and advocated for Palestinian rights for a two state system (although, this was somewhat late in the game). I love the Obamas and my life is better because of his administration.

At 24 years old I believed that our nation had drastically stepped away from racism and bigotry. I do believe that we have come a long way but the fight is not over. In the last year we have seen a rise in hate crimes and fear of safety for self and others are far too common. I can not tolerate this behavior. I can not sit back and allow hateful behavior to be a normal part of American life. I am driven by justice and equality for all.

In President Obama's farewell speech he asked us to "Show up. Dive in. Stay at it."

I can promise you I will. #ThanksObama

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