Through My Lens: Here’s hoping that as Maine goes, so goes the nation

Thanks to Maine’s immigrants, our state made headlines in many languages in 2021.

Every Mainer should be proud of the history Maine and the United States made in the last few weeks of 2021. This was the best holiday season for every single Maine immigrant.

Imagine a Maine mayor whose story is published in languages other than English and shared globally. Could you ever imagine a Maine mayor who is being celebrated in the remotest rural towns of Somalia? I think we can say that South Portland’s Deqa Dhalac, the first Somali-American mayor in the United States, is also Maine’s ambassador to the world. Her story has become the story of Maine.

The last few weeks of 2021 were full of optimism and pride for our state. Every American should think differently of immigrants now. The year 2022 is a new, exciting beginning for those of us who already live here and for those who join us in the near future.

For young Muslim girls in Maine, 2022 is a year different than any in the past. This year, they see themselves differently; they see themselves as someone who could be elected to the highest offices in Maine.

When my mother, who lives in southern Somalia, heard an interview with Mayor Dhalac on the local radio, she thought I made the right decision to settle in Maine. But a couple of years ago, my mother was worried for my safety, as I live in one of America’s whitest states. She often asked why I had not decided to move to Minnesota, which has over 80,000 Somalis and has many Somali office-holders.

The simple answer was that I felt Maine was also going to change like Minnesota someday and I had to be part of that change. Now history has been made here. The first Somali-American and Muslim woman elected in a city that is 90% white is a big story. This has not happened anywhere else in the U.S. It’s something that has never happened in Somalia either; no woman there has ever been elected mayor.

Imagine how many Muslim women now see our country differently. People remember the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and his careless attacks against the minority Somali community in Maine. But, as we go into a mid-term election year, Maine’s minority communities are more energized to go out and vote. We see voting differently this year: We see the power of the vote.

While I can’t be thankful enough for the Mainers of all colors who contributed their part to make history in Maine, I also have questions for the Mainers who left angry emojis and racist comments on social media posts about the new South Portland mayor. What exactly is it that you are afraid of? How is a Muslim woman who moved here many years ago, went to school here and raised her kids here a threat to you?

This is a moment to celebrate our state and be proud of Maine. Change happens to all of us. We newly arrived immigrants had to change in many ways to move here and live here. I have no regrets and I believe no one in my community has any regrets. I am happy with the changes I made. They made me a better person. Change is necessary; you have to be willing to accept that.

Let’s make more history in the years to come as Mainers. Now that our state has become a global celebrity during the recent holiday season, let’s think of that moment. What else would make us proud? People want to visit Maine, they want to experience this state that made history.

Source:- Press Herald