Back in February of 2018, Rashida Tlaib, daughter of Palestinian immigrant parents, a native of Detroit, Michigan, announced her campaign in running for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. As of this morning, the results are in, and Tlaib has successfully won the election, making her set to become not only the first Muslim woman but the first Arab-American Muslim and first Palestinian woman to serve in the United States Congress. She’s a modern, dynamic, young progressive ready to bring some change through the Democratic party.
In a statement to Arab America this morning, Tlaib stated,
“The 13th congressional district is diverse and strong. They wanted a fighter and just got one. To those who see me in them, who see their beautiful Arabness, this historic win shows you that our country is so much better than what you have experienced recently. What a powerful message our campaign’s success represents.”
Polls showed the race as being too close to call at first, but with the help of her supporters, and a key endorsement of the Detriot Free Press, Tlaib finished strong as she won the position. As of this morning, Tlaib wins with 33.2% of votes, that’s 28,645 votes to be exact, according to the most recent report from The New York Times. With no one to run against from the Republican Party, Tlaib is “virtually guaranteed” to win the seat in the November election.
Before being elected to Congress, Tlaib was the first Palestinian woman to ever serve in the Michigan Legislature, as a state representative for three terms, and Democratic Chair of the House of Appropriations Committee. As Democratic Chair, she has created laws to help homeowners dealing with fraudulent mortgage bankers in efforts to stop “scrap metal thieves” from destroying the city she so dearly loves. She’s always planning to be the Congresswoman that we need, fighting for people in the streets and the courts.
Her roots in social justice and activism are a good fit for the district and would help tremendously with her work. Detroit Free Press even states that she “pairs progressive politics with policy know-how; a commitment to social justice with a reputation for solid delivery of constituent services.” With experience from being a minority party member in a Republican-controlled state legislature, Tlaib knows steps she must take in order to be the most effective in a GOP controlled US House of Representatives.
Tlaib plans to use her power in Washington to fight against the Trump agenda that she says “puts corporate profits and serves the rich over the rest of us.” She plans to use her Palestinian background to stand up for what needs to be changed and what is right. Tlaib’s strength and passion come from her strong connection with her family background. Specifically, her mother is from Beit Ur al-Fauqa, right outside Ramallah, and her father from Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Growing up the oldest of 14 children, Tlaib always had a lot of responsibility on her hands. Her empathy comes from her experiences with her family, where she also gets her motivation to fight for what she believes in which she will use through her role in Congress.
Since the 2016 presidential elections, the political divide has been at an all-time high. In more recent times, minorities are underrepresented. They’re extremely singled-out having to work harder to basic rights we all have as citizens, and specifically, Arab Americans are constantly looked at for everything they are not. We need people in our government who are ready and able, passionate and determined to make a more positive change. With Tlaib, a long time supporter of Detroit, as part of Congress, she has many plans for Michigan and this country. She’s spent many years of her life, her political career, advocating, supporting, and serving the citizens of Detroit, and this is only the beginning. Rashida Tlaib is just what we need to not only represent Arab Americans but to bring the change we need so desperately in America.
By: Alena Khan/Arab America Contributing Writer
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