Diversity in midterm wins reflects progress

By Sana Khadilkar, Staff Writer

With a wave of minorities making historic firsts in the 2018 midterm elections, minority students and organizations express how they feel their cultures are being more represented in the government.

“I think it’s pretty exciting for Muslims to be in positions of power and representing Muslims across the country,” said Isra Rahman, junior in LAS and advocacy chair for the Muslim Student Association. “I think it’s also important because the people who were elected to power are very diverse, and the Muslim community is also very diverse, which isn’t usually reflected across the country.”

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Rahman said Omar and Tlaib represent how the Muslim population is made up of people from around the world. Omar is a Somali refugee and Tlaib is an American.

She said she views Omar and Tlaib’s wins as progress, but feels that because Muslims vary widely in their political views, there need to be more Muslim candidates elected that fully represent the diversity of opinions within the Muslim population.

“Ilhan and Rashida are both very proud of where they’re from, which is a big thing for Muslims because oftentimes our parents and our generation of immigrant Muslims especially don’t feel they can truly be proud of where they’re from and have to assimilate to American culture,” Rahman said.

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Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the first Latinas elected to Congress in Texas. Michelle Lujan Grishman was the first Latina governor elected in New Mexico.

“I think it’s always helpful to be able to see the way that America looks, the way that all of the progress the Latinos have made on the national level be able to be reflected via our institutions in the federal level,” said Jorge Mena, interim director at La Casa Cultural Latina.

Mena said seeing women of color in positions traditionally held by white males would help students feel more represented and he hopes that elected officials in the future represent the diversity of the United States.

Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids were the first Native American women elected to Congress. Raul Sun Han Chang, graduate student in LAS and president of The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, said in an email that SACNAS hopes minorities elected can one day accurately reflect the incredible diversity of the United States population.

“Our organization is thrilled to see minorities gaining representation in the government. We understand the value of diverse perspectives in solving big problems and the power of representation in inspiring and motivating younger generations to reach higher,” Chang said.

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