Get To Know Representative Anna Eskamani

As mentioned within my previous article,  Anna Eskmanai an Iranian-American woman, and representative of the Democratic party was recently elected in Florida HD 47.  She has contributed to the betterment of her community tremendously and continues to serve as an inspiration and mentor to young activists around the nation.  Last week, I had the honor of interviewing Representative Anna Eskamani over the phone. Below you can find the interview questions and answers.
1. Was there any specific event that sparked your desire to engage in civic discourse to make a change within your community and the nation?

AE: “My mother passed away to cancer when I was 13 years old, this was a traumatic experience for me and my family, however, at that moment I knew I would honor the life of my mother through empowering others and giving back.  Aside from this, my engagement with politics began at a young age. I partook in theatre within high school, however, Mr. Norris my AP Government teacher got me back into the fold of the operational side of civics. I attended, and currently attend, UCF which initially got me involved in a series of environmental movements, and Iranian organizations. I have always been  rooted in a foundation of having a professional career with constant non-profit advocacy.”
2. Throughout the duration of your campaign, it became evident the opposing side attempted to mark your actions and standpoints on progressive issues as “radical” what was your response or mindset throughout all of this.

AE: “I constantly reminded myself that my very existence was radical, the idea of a young woman of color, running for office, raising over half a million dollars, knocking on thousands and thousands of doors… they – the opposing side – would go to any extreme in the attempt to hurt or scare us, I grounded myself in knowing who I am and knowing the issues I was fighting for. I find in most cases the candidate in fire avoids talking about backlash and it’s so typical,  it is a fear of difference, and it is inappropriate, so I wanted to lead by example and clap back letting them know we weren’t afraid.”
3. Are there any current affairs that are at the top of your priority list, what do you ultimately wish to see change within the United States?

AE: “ There are many different affairs I’d like to address ranging from improving conditions for the hard-working Florida families, working to improve public schools, protecting the environment, fighting for increased health care access (mental health and reproductive health), while ensuring gun safety and regulations.  These affairs were also the root of our campaign, focusing on the many crises present today.”
4. Do you have any advice for young activists specifically in regards to getting involved within current affairs?

AE: “ Any young person should look for organizations that match their passions and if they can’t find them, then they should start their own and bring people together, I also advise the youth to look for internship opportunities and mentors. I am honored to be a mentor to so many and always show up for others. I truly believe that good leaders create new leaders and I want to make sure I can cultivate strong advocates and leaders through supporting them in any way I can.”

5. You’ve mentioned within various interviews etc. that you are very proud of your Iranian American roots do you have a message to other Iranian American individuals living in fear of their roots?

AE: “This is such an important question, throughout the campaign we were always authentic about our culture and our identity, the best advice is to just be yourself and be proud of how amazing our identity is.  Take pride in sharing your culture with others and know that you are never alone.”

I wanted to end this article with a sincere thank you to Representative Eskamani for allowing me to interview her and taking the time to have a genuine conversation with me and so many others throughout this exciting time.  I look forward to supporting Ms. Eskamani throughout all her future endeavors and witnessing the change she works for in action.

You can learn more about Representative Anna Eskamani here.

Democrats Take The House… Meet Anna Eskamani Florida’s First Iranian-American Woman Elected Into State Legislature

Featured Image Courtesy of  Anna Eskamani

As midterm elections and results came to a close Tuesday night, the Democratic party was able take back control of House.  In a series of states including: Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Colorado, Democrats were able to win formerly Republican held seats securing the 218 necessary seats to regain their control.  In Florida, Anna Eskamani became the first Iranian-American woman to be elected the state’s legislature, earning nearly 14 additional points than her opponent Republican businessman Stockton Reeves.

Who is Anna Eskamani?

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Anna Eskamani (left), Stockton Reeves (right)                          Image Courtesy of Orlando Rising

Ms. Eskamani is an, “Orlando native, and daughter of immigrants […] a progressive with a proven track record of standing up for the rights […] and championing economic opportunities for all”.  Anna received her education at the University of Central Florida focusing upon environmental issues while taking part in the Iranian Student Organization, Political Science Honor Society, alongside eventually serving as the State Women’s Caucus Chair.  She earned two bachelors in Women’s Studies alongside Political Science and continued into pursuing higher education receiving a dual Masters with graduate degrees in both Public Administration and Nonprofit Management.

Anna Eskamani (right).                                                                         Image Courtesy of Anna Eskamani

Politically, she has been involved in a series of progressive reform movements and her involvement in opposition of President Trump’s imposed travel ban has been significantly noted within many communities across the nation.  Aside from this, she notably stands up for a series of current issues impacting our nation as a whole. As time has progressed Anna has continued her work in civic engagement serving as the Senior Director for Planned Parenthood, while successfully campaigning against Republican Stockton Reeves during the Midterm elections.

Her campaign focused on a series of progressive reform concepts including reproductive justice,  environmental issues, alongside LGBTQ+ rights. Prior to the election, Ms. Eskamani was well known within her community for publicly speaking out against transphobia, and attending a series of women’s rights marches. Throughout the duration of her campaign it became evident that her progressive standpoints were able to reel in a series of voters from all generations providing her 57% of the vote in comparison to the 43% her opponent received.

Anna Eskamani pictured publicly speaking out regarding health care.                              Image Courtesy of Anna Eskamani

After becoming informed of her victory, in an email announcement she stated, “together we’ve made history, in not only challenging the status quo and flipping a competitive state house seat — but in also electing the first Iranian-American to any public office in Florida”.

We look forward to the great changes she will influence and advocate for as she continues to inspire younger generations of leaders within our communities.  

“We Won”                                                                                       Image Courtesy of Anna Eskamani 

 

Tragedy Averted… America, We Have an Issue.

Featured Image courtesy of CBS News

BREAKING NEWS:

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Santa Fe High School 5.18.18 – Photo Courtesy of Yahoo

May 18th 2018.  7:45 a.m: A shooter opened fire on students at Santa Fe High School today killing over 8 individuals and injuring many others.  

May 18th 2017.  7:45 a.m: A shooter opened fire on students at Santa Fe High School today KILLING OVER 8 individuals  and injuring many others.  

May 18th 2017

7:45 a.m

Shooter.

Santa Fe High School.

KILLING.

OVER 8.

Santa Fe Independent School District has confirmed via Facebook that there were injuries sustained in an active shooter situation which has recently been contained with two suspects identified. One in custody the other detained.  The district has not confirmed the fatalities however it was mentioned that there could be anywhere from 8-10 deceased.

 

BREAKING NEWS:

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Dixon High School 5.16.18  – Photo Courtesy of ABC News

May 16th 2018.  Wednesday morning.  19-year-old former student used a 9mm semiautomatic rifle to open fire near the auditorium of Dixon High School in Illinois.  Mark Dallas shot and wounded the gunman. Tragedy averted.

May 16th 2018.  Wednesday morning.  19-year-old former student used a 9mm semiautomatic rifle to open fire near the auditorium of Dixon High School in Illinois.  Mark Dallas shot and wounded the gunman. Tragedy averted.

May 16th 2018.

Wednesday morning.

Former student used a 9mm semiautomatic rifle

Suspect Matthew Milby opened fire near a graduation ceremony rehearsal.  The suspect was quickly identified and chased by Mark Dallas, Dixon Police Officer.  Milby and Dallas exchanged fire at one another until Officer Dallas shot and wounded Matthew Milby, the 19-year-old former student in possession of a 9mm semiautomatic rifle.  

Tragedy averted…. or was it.  

 

Fatalities do not mark a tragedy.  

 

The gun culture in America is a tragedy in itself encompassing, “behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about firearms and their usage”.  To obtain a firearm federal law requires an individual to be at least 21 to purchase a handgun, and only 18 to purchase a long gun. Specific states however have decided to bypass these federal laws and allow children as old as 15 to purchase a firearm with no parental consent.  Many individuals may argue these laws are harmless and the matter of the transactions are carefully monitored and professional. This is the root of the problem. Americans are addicted to their guns and they don’t want to face this fact.

 

Unfortunately many elected officials are not helping the cause. Understanding the extent of their political abilities, their continued inaction on the legislation that could potentially prevent these inhumane acts have only opened doors for more to occur.

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Gun Control Debate – Photo Courtesy of The American View

Individuals are missing the mark, we need gun control.  Eradicating guns is unlikely, and unnecessary, we need to monitor and control the transaction, trade, and behavior of gun owners, sellers, buyers etc.  As a community we need to ensure that the background checks and mental examinations of individuals with possession of firearms are strengthened and religiously utilized.   

 

Understanding the mental stability of the individual plays a significant factor in the recently observed violence and damage,  the loosely followed laws and lack of frequent background/ update checks allow for these potentially mentally unstable individuals to obtain these firearms.  

 

While taking into mind that many mass shooters obtain their weapons through a family member or through legal purchase it is important that any individuals with firearms in their household or in an accessible place undergo examination or background checks, and that any suspicious behavior is documented and reported by friends and families.  The phrase, “If you see something, say something” cannot be stressed enough.  

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Background Check – Photo Courtesy of Dr. Deb

In comparison to other nations, the protocol to obtain firearms in the United States is seemingly inadequate.  Understanding no background check can truly identify the intended use of the firearms or the early warning signs of a potential mass shooter, psychological exams as proposed by Utah cops and lawmakers may prove extremely beneficial.  

 

Konrad Chen stated he thinks its a, “good idea to make sure that [gun owners] are sane and that they are capable mentally to handle firearms”  further Chen mentioned that if, “there were any signs of issues that they could go ahead and take care of that before issuing a firearm”. The conversation continued with Chen further stating that these psychological exams could also ensure that the prospective gun owner knows how to safely use the firearm.  

 

The issue lies in the fact that many gun owners are hesitant when approached with the idea that their ownership of a firearm may be jeopardized due to increased legal action ensuring the safety of all.  It is important for individuals to understand that increasing the security and monitoring of the transaction of firearms is imperative to ensure that firearms are being obtained by stable, and mentally capable individuals.  

 

It is our hope that individuals continue to take action and speak out against the lack of action taken in order to alleviate the pain and suffering the lack of gun control has caused.  We cannot afford to remain silent in the midst of the chaos present.

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March For Our Lives – Photo Courtesy of CNN

 

“ If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”

– Desmond Tutu

Santa Fe High School Shooting-What We Know

Early this Friday morning, around 7:30-7:45 a.m., at Santa Fe High School in Texas, a shooting occurred. At least ten are dead, and more were injured. At least one police officer is injured as well. Most of the dead are students, but an exact number is not yet known. This is the third school shooting in eight days, and there have been a reported 22 since the beginning of the year in America.

A senior at the school told KHOU-TV that his friend saw another kid with a gun, then the fire alarm was pulled, and shots were fired once teachers and students had evacuated the building. Another student said, “We thought it was a fire drill at first, but really, the teacher said, ‘Start running,'”

Earlier this year, in February, there was a law enforcement response to the school when students and teachers thought they heard gun fire. The school was placed on lock down and searched, but at the time no threat was found.

One male, who is believed to be a student, has been arrested, and a second person, also believed to be a student, has been detained.

An unnamed witness said an armed person walked into an art class and began shooting what looked like a shotgun. The witness also said they saw a girl who was believed to be shot in the leg.

Those who are hurt from the shooting are being brought to a hospital in Galveston.

Different students have reported hearing at least 3-4 shots.

One student, Dakota Shrader, told CNN that she heard gunshots after hearing an alarm in the school. “I was in the history hallway, and as soon as we heard the alarms, everybody just started leaving following the same procedure as (a) practice fire drill, and the next things you know we just here… three gunshots, loud explosions, and all the teachers are telling us to run.”

The high school, which has 1,400 student is on lockdown, along with the whole school district.

Cuba Names New President Who Isn’t Castro

Miguel Diaz-Canel was officially named the new leader of Cuba this Thursday.  This is the first time in nearly 60 years that Cuba’s leader was not a man named Castro.

The leader, 57, was selected by votes of 603-1 as an unopposed candidate. He will take over Raul Castro’s, 86, place. Diaz-Canal was not even born when Fidel Castro began his revolution in 1959.

zqq-1024x569.png Raul Castro and Miguel Diaz-Canal                               picture via thecubaneconomy.com

Miguel Diaz-Canal was born a year after Fidel Castro took power. Diaz-Canal built a name for himself while an efficient administrator while serving as the top Communist Party official for the provinces Holguin after Villa Clara.

Diaz-Canal will become president of the Cuban Council and Council of Ministers, and the other members of the Council of State were named on Thursday, but the Council of Ministers will be decided at the next National Assembly, which according to Diaz-Canal, will be sometime later in the year. Raul Castro, though no longer president, will remain a member of the National Assembly.

“Raul Castro, as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, will lead decisions of greatest transcendence for the present and the future of this country,” Diaz-Canal said in a speech to the Cuban National Assembly in Havana, indicating that he will be continuing the leadership role Raul Castro will play for Cuba.

Al Gore’s New Film Brings “Truth to Power”

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

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Al Gore at Sundance Film Festival. (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

A decade after Al Gore’s empowering and eye-opening film and book, An Inconvenient Truth, Former Vice President Gore has brought a new inspiring movie that reminds us of our responsibility to the climate movement. The sequel reviews the changes in both policy and climate, that have shaped the world.

The film exposes the rapid changes that are occurring in the Arctic with a spotlight on the glacial melt in Greenland. Footage shows Gore exploring the quickly melting glacial ice and the colossal chunks of glacier crashing into the ocean. He suggests that due to unusually high temperatures in Greenland, the glaciers are responding. Following the drastic chain of effects that follow sea level rise, the film focuses on flooding events that have ruined cities. After giving the viewer a background on the effects of climate change, Gore calls for the response that is essential to stopping this crisis.

Highlighting Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training, the film calls for more activism and involvement to drive the climate movement. In the Leadership Corps program, Al Gore personally trains the potential leaders to encourage change in local community and  to bring the “Truth to Power”. With the program, people can apply to become apart of the Leadership Corps and commit to overcoming the climate crisis.

The coined term “Truth to Power” is now a forceful push in action that stands for change and revolution. Gore proves that through defiance, persistence and charged persuasion, the goals needed to make a difference are achievable. Though faced by many challenges, the climate movement has fought against every opposition and stood strong after every downfall. He brings hope and is determined that we can continue to lead our efforts into the future; despite Trump’s radical agenda. Gore connects the Climate Movement to the many influential movements that have shaped our world such as the Civil Rights Movement, Gay Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage Movement, and Anti-Apartheid Movement. Each of these oppressed movements were confronted by many threats but continued to develop and achieve ambitious progress.

After a long and burdensome road to ratifying the Paris Agreement, President Trump announced on June 1, 2017 that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. A huge setback to the goals ratified, the withdrawal would ruin the dynamic formed in the agreement and would override the changes endured in other countries. While addressing this announcement, Gore remains hopeful that the strength of the movement is more powerful than the actions of the President.

Closing with the motivating message, “Fight like your world depends on it”, the film leaves viewers with an intense desire to make the changes laid out in the film. Overall the sequel was a perfect combination of recalling the growth of our past while reminding viewers of the obstacles that still lay ahead. The film should be used as proof of the glorious outcomes of unity, determination, and grit.

To join the Climate Reality Project proceed to the project website to bring “Truth to Power”.

Watch the trailer to this inspiring sequel here.

 

Trumps New Military Ban

featured image courtesy of Elite Daily 

**

On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump sent out a series of three messages on the social media platform Twitter. The three messages included new information about a certain group of people from the LGBTQ Community. They said, in order, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……” “….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..” “….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”

In writing these messages Trump stated that transgender individuals are burdens, which created an uprising on every social media platform. Hashtags were created and reused from old, forgotten about protests. Celebrities took to Instagram and Twitter to reblog pictures and captions that littered every corner of the internet. Celebrities/Politicians spoke their mind over Twitter.

Tom Perez tweeted “To the members of the transgender community: You are not a “burden.” Do not let this president shake you. We support you, we stand with you.” The tweet was liked more than 70,000 times and retweeted more than 35,000 times.

An old tweet from Ivanka Trump said, “I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.” That tweet was quoted by another twitter user James Cordon who, on July 26, said, “Hey Ivanka, James here. Hope all is good, quick question, can you… Erm… Call your dad and have a talk. X” That was in response to what her father had tweeted just earlier that day.

Former Vice President, Joe Biden, tweeted “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.”

Since Trump’s tweets people have stopped to wonder, ‘Is this constitutional?’ ‘what about those who are already in the military? will he really take 15,000 individuals out of the army?’ ‘isn’t he basically un-arming our military?’

However, none of these things can shake our community. Why? Because President Trump’s many actions carried out during his term have shown us, multiple times over, that when you silence and discriminate against one community, all others stand up to shout louder and stronger for those who can’t.