I am a first generation American.
The daughter of a Muslim Arab Immigrant father and a Jewish-American mother and the oldest of four children.
My family’s love and commitment to each other has taught me the values of inclusion and compromise. I also know the reality of discrimination and ignorance.
Growing up, I always helped my parents by working in their own small businesses. This meant, I experienced firsthand the loss of income and well-being they experienced after September 11, 2001. They owned and ran a local restaurant in a small town in North Carolina. After 9/11, the business suffered an almost total loss of its previously loyal customer base, as well as its good will within the community. Then we moved to Virginia, and were welcomed and accepted as the multi-cultural, multi-religious family that we are.
My family’s struggles inspired me to work hard, first as an undergrad at American University, and then as the recipient of Master’s degrees in Public Health from George Mason and Social Work from Columbia University. I have learned that the best way to make change is to work with and listen to people one on one.
As lifelong Democrat and a volunteer for both of Barack Obama’s campaigns, as well as Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, I developed a calling for politics. On election night 2016, I was sitting in the Javits Center about 100 feet behind the platform where Clinton would have spoken had she won. Like so many that night, I left devastated. As the months have gone by, I’ve witnessed – and experienced – the growing level of discrimination for immigrants and others who don’t represent the narrowest of American ideals.
I have also been inspired. Now, as I start my own family alongside my fiance, I vow to protect the diversity of Virginia.
It is time for a millennial, multi-cultural representative in Virginia. My fellow Virginians are better than hate and small-mindedness. We need a progressive democrat representing Fairfax and Loudoun.
I look forward to representing all of us in District 67.
Hannah Risheq for Virginia 67 Delegate
Working Together for Virginia