Michigan Women Vote: Tope, four times a minority
By Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi
When I quit my full time job as a CPA in August 2015 to give more time to the United for Kids Foundation, an organization I co-founded in 2002 and that I manage pro bono, I knew 2016 was going to be a busy year. However, no crystal ball could have predicted I would take time off that and my exciting book tour to take up a hectic job as an organizer with the Hillary Clinton campaign in Michigan, almost 700 miles away from home. I have been with the most amazing organizing team in Grand Rapids since September 3, and most of the time I still cannot believe how quickly and easily I made the decision to be here.
Although I had been dreaming about “President Hillary Clinton” even before she officially got into the 2016 race, I really didn’t plan to do more than I did for President Obama in Ohio in 2012: volunteer my time for a couple of days before the election. However, my plans changed on July 21 when I attended President Obama’s Eid ul Fitr celebration at the White House. I still can’t find the words to describe the joy and honor I felt when I shook the President’s hands that day, but let’s just say I was very happy. As I drove to my home in Columbia, Maryland, after the party, I got quite anxious. I could feel the sweat in my palms on my steering wheel as my four times minority status being a Black, Muslim, Immigrant Woman began to dawn on me. If I wanted to continue feeling at home in the United States of America, if I wanted me or anyone who looks like me to feel like they deserve this type of honor in the future, I had to get in the in the ring.
I knew that simply volunteering to help get out the votes a couple of days before the election wasn’t going to be sufficient. I knew it was time to suspend the book tour, pack up, and go join the fight wherever it was. I got home, switched on my computer, and submitted my application to be a campaign organizer. I was clear in my application — I wanted to organize Muslims, Africans (both immigrants and U.S. born), and women. I wanted to organize people like me; I wanted to tell them what we had to lose if we refuse to show up for the fight.
I have now spent three hectic and exhausting weeks in Grand Rapids, and I am glad I am in the ring with Secretary Clinton because I know that when she gets to the White House, she will fight for me everyday.
Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi is the author of Love in Cancun, an amazon.com best seller. She is a Muslim Nigerian-American woman passionate about building social and economic bridges between the United States of America and African nations. In addition to managing United for Kids Foundation, Tope hosts the Impact Africa podcast.