State representative inspires at talk

By Evan Walsh, Chief Copy Editor

On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States. Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American woman and follower of Islam, was elected to her state’s legislature that same day.

As part of the Butler A. Jones Lecture Series, Omar shared her story as an immigrant and a public servant with the Ohio Wesleyan community and friends of the uni- versity this past Tuesday.

Fleeing the violence of a civil war in her native Somalia, Omar and her family came to the United States in 1995.

Like so many people who come to America in search of a better life, Omar imagined that she, too, would be afforded those opportunities necessary to make her dreams and her family’s vision a reality. But as she grew up, her faith in an “American Dream” would be tested.

Omar said that most of the time she felt welcome and accepted as she made a new home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, there were times where people did not respect her because they were intolerant of her religious identity, ethnic identity or gender.

She recalled one experience where she had her hand raised to answer a math problem on the board at the front of her class. She was the only one who knew it, yet her teacher was unwilling to let her answer.

That did not stop her. Rather than remain silent and let the class continue, Omar got up and made her way to the board where she wrote out the answer to the problem.

She said she believes that that kind of strong, independent attitude has made it possible for her to face the injustices she sees and experiences everyday as a minority.

In addition to all that she has accomplished in her public and private lives, Omar’s example has inspired and given hope to so many that identify with her and the message of a more equal America that she is fighting for.

Quoting the ancient Greek philosopher Solon, Omar said, “Wrongdoing can only be avoided if those who are not wronged feel the same indignation at it as those who are.”

That message resonated with Omar Hashi, a Columbus resident with degrees from Ohio State University in both political science and international studies

“As Somalis, and as immigrants in the Trump era we look at Ilhan Omar and see a beacon of hope,” Hashi said.