My friend Rashida: far more than the first Muslim American congresswoman
I walked into Rashida Tlaib’s election watch party shortly after midnight. Making the 15-minute drive from downtown Detroit, where Abdul El-Sayed, the Muslim physician hopeful for the Michigan governorship held his party, to the gritty Old Redford neighborhood on the city’s northwest side, where Rashida set up her headquarters.
Hip-hop, salsa, Detroit house and Arabic music thumped from the speakers. The cafe walls, where the party was being held, were adorned with the work of local artists. There were no suits or gowns, just the squeak of sneakers and blue campaign T-shirts filling the room.
Tlaib’s party felt like a real party, where millennials of all races mingled naturally with middle-aged and elderly supporters that were celebrating as the results rolled in. The mood was the opposite of the party for El-Sayed, who conceded to his opponent roughly two hours earlier, in a neighborhood far from the gentrifying sections of Detroit and even farther from the cameras touting the once-bankrupt city’s “comeback”.
But this is precisely who the candidate – widely known by her first name alone – is. And exactly where the seasoned community organizer and southwest Detroit-bred politician, celebrated as “the first Muslim American congresswoman”, is supposed to be.
Nearly 12 years earlier, I walked into Rashida’s office at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (Access) looking for support against a ballot proposal that sought to abolish affirmative action in Michigan – also my home state. Read More
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