Rashida Tlaib: Meet One of Congress’s First Muslim Women

March 28 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Let’s Discuss

In an uncharacteristic move, I got into a disagreement on Instagram. Strangely enough, it was about disagreements. How meta. Remember when your teachers would say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”? Lately, I’ve felt like it’s frowned upon to ask what some may think is a stupid question. Engaging in a respectful discussion is one way we humans learn. It’s why kids go back and forth with their dad about why exactly they can’t hit their brother, or about why there’s a sun.

If you want someone to be on your side, you have to be willing to let them say stupid things, and question you and your opinion. You also have to be prepared to accept the fact that you might not win them over. But a phrase or sentence you say might just stick with them forever.


There’s one thing we can’t disagree with: Babies are cute and squishy no matter where they’re born, and all babies deserve the chance to grow up healthy and secure. Where you’re raised matters. A lot of people come to America, for example, to have better lives and start families. From 1994 to 2017, the population of immigrant children in the United States grew by 51 percent.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Rashida Tlaib, U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th Congressional District

Michigan’s 13th Congressional District welcomed Rashida Tlaib as its representative in 2008. Rashida calls herself the “unbossed Congresswoman” because she isn’t here for your sh*t. She wore her mother’s Palestinian thobe while being inducted, which is a hand-embroidered garment that’s similar to a robe and worn during special occasions.

Rashida made headlines as one of the first Muslim women running for office, despite the fact that the Pew Research Center estimates that a little over 1 percent of the US population identifies as Muslim. Representative Rashida calls Detroit home and was raised by immigrant parents. She’s been called the “people’s advocate” for her work as an attorney and advocate for economic and social justice.

Rashida’s 2018 platform centered on what many Michiganians care about, like securing funding for no-cost health clinics and Meals on Wheels. Voters appreciated her focus on issues that directly affect their quality of life.

As one of the first Muslim women to be in the political sphere, Rashida has to take some serious heat. She knows disagreements all too well, with those across the aisle and even in her own party claiming anti-Semitism among other accusations. Being a first-generation American and a woman is a recipe for some serious bigotry, but Rashida knew that going into it.

The New York Times reports that Rashida’s winning election shows that a new generation of voters is ready for change and is ready to identify with a more diverse group of political players. Back in her earlier Michigan days, Rashida led a campaign specifically targeting the established hate against the Arab and Muslim populations.

There are issues that have no gender and have no race. Rashida tackled big-money businesses that were contaminating the Detroit River and shined a spotlight on illegal unemployment practices. When the topic of “Medicare for All” came up, Rashida tweeted: “Bring it on.” It’s clear Rashida is ready to make some waves.


A politician who has probably received more vitriol than we can imagine, Hillary Clinton, said:

"Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward."

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