MSA and CAIR host Voter Engagement Banquet
Jacob Waring – Reporter
Asma Rahimyar, a sophomore, and community outreach chair for the Muslim Student Assocation (MSA) said she votes for the people and for their inalienable rights.
“I vote for my classmates, whose mother had to choose between sending her daughter to medical school and her son to law school,” said Rahimyar, at the Voter Engagement Banquet, hosted by the MSA and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “I vote for the woman who brings her 2-year-old son to my math class every Friday, keeping him occupied. When I vote for politicians of color, I vote for my Nigerian friend who grew up being told that she’d have to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously.”
She touched upon the points of why one should register to vote, why voting matters and how compassion plays a central role.
She also said she was inspired by the election of former President Barack Obama.
“When I was 8-years-old, President Obama was inaugurated, and my teacher took us to see the inauguration speech, not knowing what to expect, and in it he talked about how he was
a skinny kid with a funny name,” she said. “That stuck with me, and that night I went home and in my journal, I wrote about that. If he can get as far as he got, then maybe I can too.”
If he can get as far as he got, then maybe I can too.”
To ensure that people can act on their constitutional right to vote or know how to go about voting, the banquet had an information session hosted by Sawera Hussan, a community organizer of CAIR-Connecticut.
“CAIR-CT aims to protect civil rights, promote justice and advocate for Muslim Americans,” she said,
“CAIR provides a voice by promoting civil rights, and advocate on the behalf of Muslims
who experience religious discrimination and hate crimes. We’re also actively involved in government affairs, and CAIR helps elected officials understand policy issues that affect Islam and Muslims.”
Hussan educated those in attendance on how to fill out an absentee ballot, elaborated on people’s rights as voters, and provide resources via online sources.
Keynote speaker, Alicia Strong, the former executive director at CAIR- Connecticut gave advice for people of color, and especially woman of color.
“Get rid of the imposter syndrome because I know my whole life I always felt like I didn’t belong. Even though I come from the inner city. When I started out in high school, I wasn’t in and I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be here. This was an accident, and they brought me here to increase the diversity ratio. I’m not at the level to be in this space,” Strong said, “I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Despite what people want to make you
feel like, or what you might make yourself feel like. You belong in that group, you’re just as smart as anyone else, you’re just as capable of doing that work.”
She also said not to forget anyone because your community may not be attacked now, but it does not mean they will not be attacked later in reference to why people should vote beyond times of communal attacks.
She said, “If they don’t want to give you a seat at the table. Bring a folding.”
Photo Credit: Jacob Waring