Giving Thanks to this Year’s Civic and Political Engagement

The month of November is best known for Thanksgiving first, and the month of elections. Although many of us have not recovered from the last presidential election, it seems more than ever people are more involved in the polls. People have become more active in registering to vote, voting, speaking their mind about the people in power, and are more politically engaged. It seems as though, the presidential race and the current administration have shown people the more they stay silent, the worse the circumstances will be for them.

Communities such as Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians have been targeted because of their faith and appearance for the last 17 years, but the stance that they’ve taken on candidates and actively going to the polls have allowed positive changes in their communities, and a new found voice that is being heard by leaders and officials.

Immigrant groups have been finding themselves in the middle of travel bans, detentions, deportations, and ill treatment since the election. This in turn, has led to  minority groups to become active during elections and educating themselves and others on their rights.

In review of the months passed this year, it is apparent that the United States hasn’t shown its full potential as the country of the free and the sanctuary for those fleeing war, violence, hunger, and inequality. Instead, the process of entry has become similar to a hazmat situation and this has caused a lot of confusion, fear, aggravation, and negligence when it came to the people who needed America the most, but unfortunately America sent a message it does not need them. These are the very people whose country men and women migrated in past history and made America great.

People who have immigrated to the US came with more than a bag of burdens and sacrifices; they came with dreams to have a life that is free from violence, fear, and threat. These are the same people who have given back to the community through their skills, trade, and are more inclined to engage in their community, support a cause in their new found home and once naturalized citizens, go out vote.

The elections that took place this month have showed the power and unity of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. Despite the negative media attention on these groups, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Sikh candidates have been elected to lead cities and become a voice for all people in their districts and cities. Among the candidates elected are Ravi Bhalla a Sikh, New Jersey’s councilman is now the Mayor of New Jersey,  Mohammed Al Banna became Lackawanna’s First Ward Councilman, Satwinder Kaur the first ever Sikh woman to become City Councilmember for Kent, Washington, Mike Khadir elected Yonkers City Council President, Jeremiah Ellison who is a Muslim African American was elected as City Council Member-elect Ward 5.

Furthermore, through their campaigns, we have seen the power of the people in and their ideals of freedom of religion, equality, and peace are the fabric of this country. These ideals have brought people together around common causes and has created a bridge for people to connect with another and to advocate for one another regardless of beliefs or backgrounds.

I believe that it is time that we see one another as an extension for common good and prosperity regardless of our ethnic, racial or religious backgrounds. We are living in dangerous times where racism, hate, and ignorance have found a voice, cause, and motive to divide our nation. We are fortunate to have  leaders stepping up to fight for  peace, equality, and freedom during these challenging times.

As Americans we all believe that this is “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all” and in order to be a true American, we must be the example of this strong statement and show this pledge in word and deed. I think the year ahead will have many challenges, however if we continue to unite and build in the face of ignorance and be a back bone for one another, the same people who believe America is not for everyone will have no choice but to follow in our example.

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