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?

Image result for anna vs stockton
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 

 

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.

Trumps New Military Ban

featured image courtesy of Elite Daily 

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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.