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Brown Woman Journal had the prospect to interview Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, a mom, instructor and advocate operating for state meeting in California’s 64th district. Within the interview, she mentioned her upbringing, why she is operating and the significance of South Asian women and girls pursuing their passions, even when it means going in opposition to the grain.
One of many biggest shows of inequity in our nation is in none aside from vibrant, star-studded Los Angeles, California, the place million-dollar, celebrity-owned mansions stand solely dozens of miles from small, one-bedroom properties in primarily Black and Latinx communities.
After witnessing how such inequities manifest, 38-year-old Fatima Iqbal-Zubair determined to run for State Meeting in California’s 64th district on a platform of training reform, environmental justice, reasonably priced housing, healthcare for all, divestment from police and immigration justice. If elected, Iqbal-Zubair would be the first Sri Lankan, first Muslim and first lady ever to characterize the district. She would even be considered one of simply three immigrants and three academics within the meeting.
Iqbal-Zubair moved to California in 2009. She spent 4 years working as a highschool science instructor within the low-income group of Watts, Los Angeles, which impressed her to run for workplace.
“After I began working at Watts, it was across the time when Bernie Sanders was operating his first marketing campaign. And so, loads of the concepts he was talking of, I heard them, and I internalized them similtaneously after I skilled instructing in Watts, which was all college students of coloration. A really low-income group, [it] has the bottom life expectancy in all of LA. It’s solely three% faculty graduates.”
Iqbal-Zubair’s college students had been severely restricted in sources to assist them succeed. She shared that they didn’t have entry to wash water at college or of their properties. Their housing was constructed on an previous metal manufacturing facility from World Struggle II that contaminated the soil with lead. Added to this environmental toxicity was an absence of funding in public faculties, stopping college students from reaching their full potential.
“I noticed my children had been smarter than I ever was. I’m working with the neatest children on this planet. I actually am. Like, it’s this untouched potential in locations like Watts and Compton. That’s what actually broke my coronary heart.”
Iqbal-Zubair noticed her college students’ potential and advocated for packages that might enable them to flourish. For instance, she began the primary robotics crew in Watts. However, she wished to do extra. Seeing how the system failed these communities time and again, Iqbal-Zubair felt a way of urgency to run and enact actual change.
Iqbal-Zubair and her robotics crew.
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Dwelling in a number of nations earlier than reaching maturity, Iqbal-Zubair gained publicity to completely different lived experiences which additional enhanced her understanding of injustices in society. For instance, when talking of Dubai, the town she was born in, Iqbal-Zubair didn’t mirror via rose-colored glasses; as an alternative, she acknowledged the grotesque inequities that exist in one of many wealthiest locations on this planet.
“Now [Dubai] has grow to be this haven of wealth and tourism, which I don’t actually like as a result of right here’s the reality: Dubai has primarily a type of slavery […]. There are ladies from Sri Lanka who get funneled in, work in these households nearly as servants. I feel, barely receives a commission something. […]. After which you’ve gross quantities of wealth. That’s at all times troubling when persons are like ‘Oh, Dubai is so cool.’ […]. It’s cool for those who’re actually wealthy, but it surely’s not cool for the center class, or it’s not cool for [these women].”
When Iqbal-Zubair was seven years previous, the Gulf Struggle broke out, and he or she and her household sought refuge by transferring to Saskatchewan, Canada. Upon beginning highschool, she and her household immigrated as soon as once more – this time to Bergenfield, New Jersey, the place she additionally attended faculty.
The September 11 assaults occurred at first of Iqbal-Zubair’s freshman yr of faculty, instigating an increase in xenophobia in opposition to Muslim-People.
“Again then I wasn’t carrying a hijab, however my mother was, and I simply keep in mind folks spitting at her automotive, drawing issues on her automotive. 9/11 modified so many issues for my household, particularly my household that appeared visibly Muslim. […]. It was actually onerous seeing my mother undergo these items, simply going to the grocery retailer. After which that basically impacted me – made me take into consideration the kind of America we must always have.”
Nineteen years have handed, and xenophobia has solely elevated underneath the Trump administration. Seeing the dearth of illustration in establishments of energy, Iqbal-Zubair was decided to alter that.
“Being in Trump[‘s] America, it angered me as a Muslim lady. […]. I used to be like, ‘ what? We’d like extra folks that appear to be me in politics. Like, there has by no means been a Muslim within the state legislature? Effectively, I’m going to do it. ?’ I’m going to do it as a result of we’d like illustration.”
Iqbal-Zubair along with her son and her husband.
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Rising up with the pressures of immigrant dad and mom, Iqbal-Zubair’s path didn’t at all times lead within the course of politics. In reality, upon her dad and mom’ needs, Iqbal-Zubair went to medical college earlier than discovering what she loves doing most: instructing.
“So loads of instances as Asians, we’re advised there’s solely three professions we will go into: an engineer, a lawyer, or a health care provider. And I feel that positively impacted me rising up. I feel my dad and mom as immigrants at all times wished the very best for me. And I form of bought funneled into that. […] And for some purpose, these are the one three professions we’re taught, however training means so many issues. You’ll be able to educate your self in like, I don’t know, social justice, proper? In coverage.”
Iqbal-Zubair encourages South Asian women to develop as much as do what they love, even when it doesn’t adhere to the expectations of their immigrant communities. It’s extra urgent than ever that we now have a higher illustration of ladies of coloration in workplace.
“When in workplace, I hope to steer with full transparency, integrity and accountability to the folks of my district and for California — group leaders and organizers, as an alternative of company donors, can be on the desk when any essential selections are made. I hope to increase our democracy by passing publicly funded elections, ranked alternative voting, and increasing voting rights. I additionally hope to steer on the Inexperienced New Deal, public training, assured housing, healthcare for all and legal justice reform. We will’t wait any longer to struggle techniques of classism and racism in California. The time is now!”
To be taught extra about Fatima Iqbal-Zubair and her platform click on right here. Register to vote right here.