An Iranian Immigrant Attends #SXSL at the White House
Naz Riahi

A few weeks ago, we brought artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to the White House for an event called South by South Lawn. At its heart, SXSL was a challenge for our country’s brightest minds to build a future that’s more inclusive, tolerant, and full of opportunity for everybody.

To me, that’s what Naz’s post is all about. When kids read about inventors in their U.S. history books, they don’t read just about Thomas Edison or the Wright Brothers. They learn that America is a nation where you can grow up to be a George Washington Carver or Ada Lovelace. They learn we just had six of our scientists and researchers win Nobel Prizes — and every one of them was an immigrant.

We know that America works best when we field a full team. We don’t want somebody with a brilliant idea left out of the room because they’re a woman, or because they grew up attending a sub-standard school. Technology alone won’t solve our problems. It’s the people behind it, bringing the full range of their backgrounds and experiences, who develop the innovations that will make a difference in our lives.

That’s why giving everybody a chance to contribute their talents is how we’ll solve America’s greatest challenges — whether it’s transforming the way we treat diseases, or building more efficient cities, or unlocking data to create a more fair criminal justice system. When we make sure everybody’s off the sidelines, then the future we shape will be one that brings opportunity to all of us, not just some.

As I look back on these past eight years, I can’t help but think about tomorrow. I’ve always said my presidency is just one leg of a race. I’m passing the baton to young people like Naz, and so many others who are finding ways to make our government and our institutions work better for everyone.

I hope to hear from more of you who are out there making change in your communities. So stay in touch: Sign up to get updates on what the rest of the SXSL community is up to, or share your story using the tag #SXSL.