Rashida Tlaib

When John Conyers, Jr., (D-Michigan) ended his 52-year career representing Detroit over mounting sexual harassment scandals, Detroit took the chance to make history, making Rashida Tlaib the district’s Democratic nominee for Congress.

Tlaib is the winner of the primary election for Michigan’s deeply Democratic 13th Congressional District, which makes her the prohibitive favorite to represent the district in the next Congress. Effectively, Tlaib was elected to Congress.

Tlaib is also in an as-yet uncalled election to serve out the remainder of Conyers’ term.

Tlaib is the eldest daughter of Palestinian-American immigrants and was part of a wave of Muslim candidates running for office this year. This interest isn’t just in spite of the President and a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, but potentially because of it.

“He’s said that people, because [of] how they pray, don’t belong in this country,” said Abdul El-Sayed, who ran for Michigan’s governor.

Running for office allows American Muslims to share a different narrative, and a more positive one.

“I always tell people that I’m exposing Islam in such a pivotal way, an impactful way, through public service,” Tlaib told CNN.

Tlaib is an ardent critic of President Trump. She was arrested as part of a protest of Trump policies in 2016. Tlaib was there to disrupt a Trump speech in downtown Detroit, and was reportedly urging the President to read the Constitution.

Tlaib also is part of the women’s wave, and in that context is also a historic candidate.

During her campaign, Rashida Tlaib championed reforms to the Civil Rights Act. She wants to end mandatory arbitration in corporate discrimination cases and to allow civil rights lawsuits based on disparate impact to reduce barriers to Title IX cases.

“It’s 55 years old and it’s time. It’s time to look at this in a much more in-depth way,” Tlaib said. “These are things that will help transform the lives of families for the better.”

She’d also help end the practice of redlining, the comprehensive term for policies that systemically punish the poor — particularly minorities — for being poor.

With this ambition, Rashida Tlaib is already marking generational change in the 13th, the seat from which John Conyers charted his own civil rights legacy.

In a time where America has further tipped the scales against Palestine, a Palestinian-American woman will represent Detroit.


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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