Guest Devi: Amina, Obama Campaign Field Organizer

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Like the rest of the country, these days, when we get together with our fellow devis with babies, a lot of what we do is talk politics. Our dear friend Amina is putting her words into action by volunteering as a Deputy Field Organizer for the Obama campaign.

Amina, who is a working mom of the cutest little eight-month-old ever, Inara, is spending every weekend in October campaigning in Nevada. During the week she's phonebanking for the swing states. She’s also taking the week before the election off to do round-the-clock work for Obama.

We asked Amina to write about the intersection of mommyhood and getting politically involved. Her thoughts are below. Also check out the video she made with Inara! (see what we mean about cutest baby ever?)

How being a mom made me more political… or, how politics made me a better mom

I’m not sure which came first. It’s like the chicken and the egg scenario. Did becoming a mother make me more political or did my interest in politics make me a better mom?

I have been ‘into’ politics for a long time. I’ve always loved American history and that can plainly be attributed to a few great teachers whose love of America , its ideals and its creation led me to also love it. It’s also due in large part to being a first generation American, a child of immigrants to this country like so many of us are.

My parents instilled in my three sisters and me the values and beliefs of the American dream, that with hard work, dedication and a good education we could be anything that we wanted to be, that our opportunities were limited only by our desire to reach for them. Both things have given me a great love for this country, for its founding ideals and its enduring promise to all who aspire to it.

And despite the fact that I grew up in town where my sisters and I were the only Indians at our high school for quite a while, or that I went to mostly white schools and college in the middle of Illinois surrounded by cornfields, I’ve never felt like my ethnicity or my gender limited me in any way. And that’s because my parents said it didn’t and I believed them. I have never felt like these things limited my opportunities, I’ve only ever felt that if I didn’t get something, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough to get it.

Obviously this is somewhat na├»ve and I admit that. I know now that things don’t always or really work that way. I know now, as I look back on my childhood that there are stories I recall where I think I see the truth in those situations more clearly, where there have been biases and maybe racial prejudice.

But my reality is that while I knew I was different growing up, I never really felt like I couldn’t achieve something because of it. I just thought that I had to work harder, try more and make people see that I was like them, regardless of race, religion or gender. I tried hard to find that common ground that links us together as people. It was my way of making my way through this world.

And that brings me to today. In all that rambling, there are two things that come out of my upbringing that have fundamentally determined how I see the world. The first is an enduring love and belief in the American dream. My parents firmly believed that America was a land of opportunity, open to all who were willing to work hard for what they wanted. And the second is that there are more things we have in common than that separate us and it’s up to each of us to find those things, to seek them out in each other and to link our common humanity.

I had a daughter eight months ago and while I knew all of this was there, somewhere below the surface, it only became more relevant, more powerful and more poignant when I had her. Holding her every day, watching her grow, seeing her smile, I feel that it’s my job, my duty, to provide for her, to protect her, to insure that all the wonderful things from my childhood are there for her.

I want her to have the same opportunities that my dad had when he came to this country, that my sisters and I had growing up, and that every child in this country deserves. Unfortunately, I see that future disappearing before my eyes. As we watch the financial markets tank, the public schools deteriorate, the climate change dramatically, the infrastructure in this country crumble, the wars around the world escalate, and the belief that this country is a beacon of hope and freedom diminish, I wonder what kind of life my daughter will have. I’m scared that she won’t have the same chance at striving for and achieving her American dream that I did. And that’s sad. No parent ever wants their child to have less than they did.

And that’s why my fascination and interest in politics has turned into action. At 33, this is the first time I’ve ever become so politically active and it’s because I think we stand at a fork in the road. The road to the future has never seemed so clear and at the same time so out of reach for so many. I can no longer sit on the sidelines, talk about politics and vote, but do nothing of consequence, nothing that actually creates change.

I have to act, not only for me, for my future, but for my daughter’s future, for her cousins and friends’ future, and for the millions of children around this country who deserve the same chance I had at achieving their American dream.

So I’m not sure if becoming a mom made me more political or if being into politics made me a better mom. All I know is that I’ve become a mom who wants to fight for her daughter’s future every step of the way. I am no longer content in watching as the future unfolds I want to be there, to shape it, to make it better every day, for her. I want her to know that I did everything I could, not only for this historic election, but also during all the times and for all the things that mattered most to her.

So while I do feel bad that I’ll miss every weekend of October with her and that I’ll miss her first Halloween while campaigning for Obama in Nevada, I hope that someday she understands that I was doing what I thought was best, for her, for our family and for the country that I love.

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