High-quality public education, affordable housing, reproductive justice and a safe, livable planet: those are just some of the tenets of Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam’s platform as she now takes on Congress.
Allam is running to represent North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As the first Muslim woman ever elected to public office in the state, Allam presents an opportunity for a uniquely “strong, progressive, grassroots” North Carolina representative.
Although this district is young demographically, Allam believes that oftentimes candidates do not appeal to the youth—thus, she said that inspiring the younger generation to vote and get involved is an important aspect of her campaign.
She pointed out that many parts of her platform, such as education, affect the younger generations the most.
“Education is really important, and making sure that education is actually accessible to everyone. We have so many people that just can't afford to go to college or even afford to get a two-year degree,” Allam said. “We need to make public universities tuition-free.”
Another major issue she hopes to tackle is climate change.
“Our generation and the next are going to be the ones that have to deal with the repercussions of inaction on climate change, and we really need someone who understands that this is an urgent moment right now for us to take action because we have less than 10 years to stop irreversible damage to the planet,” she said.
Allam also explained that there are high-paying jobs coming to the Research Triangle—for example, Apple and Google opening new local hubs—but that the residents of the 6th District are not the ones benefiting from these positions. She said that the region needs “to invest in training opportunities and make continued education more accessible to [residents]” in order to solve this inequality.
“We really need someone who's going to hit the ground running and get to work for the people of this district,” Allam said.
When Allam began looking into campaigning, she wanted to “build some sort of support system” for Muslim women running for office in the South, searching for solidarity as she endured hardship due to her identity.
“That's when we realized that we haven't had a Muslim woman elected [in North Carolina] that I could reach out to and ask for advice, ask for support on how to deal with Islamophobic messages and hateful comments that I would receive,” Allam said. “Even phone calls, even mail to my house—cutout pictures of me calling me all sorts of Islamophobic slurs.”
Allam went on to share that on the day she was sworn in, someone called her questioning the citizenship status of “that Muslim woman.”
“It sucks that, you know, Muslim women and women of color have to go through this type of discrimination and these type of hurdles to run for office,” Allam said. “That definitely built me up to have some really tough skin.”
“Sometimes I'll sit with my husband. I'll be like, ‘You know, it's really tough sometimes dealing with this,’ and he has helped to remind me that for the next Muslim woman it’s going to be hopefully a little bit easier,” Allam said. “There'll be less and less of this hatred and bigotry. Because oftentimes, some of these people have never even met a Muslim before.”
Because she is running in a district that is both young and “extremely blue,” Allam believes voters should take this opportunity to send “a fighter to Congress,” where she will be able to affect change within state-wide issues, such as gerrymandering.
“Even though it's going to be tough, it's going to be a lot of hard work, it's going to be worth it,” Allam said. “Because we're fighting for working class people.”
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Madeleine Berger is a Trinity senior and an editor at large of The Chronicle's 119th volume.