Rep. Omar. Source: Twitter
I was born in Somalia and left during the Somali civil war. It was the first time I understood what hunger felt like, what death looked like. My family spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States.
My family and I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, the heart of the Somali diaspora, and Minnesota became my home. When I was a teenager, I interpreted for my grandfather at the DFL caucus and realized how much work still awaited people like me, a Black Muslim immigrant woman. I’ve worked as a custodian, as a cashier, and as a political operative.
In 2016, I was elected to the State House in Minnesota. And in 2018, I was elected to the US House of Representatives. During my life, as a Black immigrant woman, a Black American woman, I’ve seen and experienced how difficult it is to be a Black woman in America.
More than 50 years ago, Malcolm X said “the most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” And that is still the case today. When we talk about women’s suffrage Movement in the 19th Amendment we never hear about the Black woman who fought for it. And we don’t talk about how Black women didn’t fully get the right to vote until the 1960s. Women of color led the fight for the suffrage and had to continue the fight to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Still today, Black women are met with so many barriers.
Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, the United States has the worst rates of maternal deaths in the developed world. This rate is increasing in the United States at it increases in other countries. And the shocking reality is even more bleak for Black women. We experience significantly more worse maternal health outcomes regardless of their education and income.
The only way forward is for us to continue to mobilize together. We have to make our voices heard in the streets and we have to make our power known at the ballot box. We share this responsibility and this journey as Black sisters and we will not be silenced.
Rep. Omar represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District