Thoughts on the Presidential Inauguration

It has been a heavy four years for many in our community, and sometimes we don’t feel the full weight of something until it is released. I hope you feel a tad lighter in the recent days – not because our work is done, but because we know the work we are doing will be more supported than it has been previously.

An Executive Order was signed a few months back prohibiting certain types of diversity training. As of January 20, 2021, that specific executive order was removed. President Biden specifically called out white supremacy and the “sting of systemic racism” as he revoked the limits placed on diversity and inclusion training. He also took down the partisan 1776 Commision and their report that was issued a few days before the end of the last administration – one that tried to whitewash our hxstory. Again, this does not mean our work is done; however it brings me hope for a brighter future.

The revoking of the “Muslim ban” executive order also impacted me personally. My family members in Iran can finally come visit in the U.S. My partner and I were not able to have some of my family and friends attend our wedding a few years back. It was sad (and embarrassing!) that the country where I grew up was broadcasting so much hate. And although I held a U.S. passport with Global Entry, as well as a diplomatic (UN) passport, I am not as fearful that I will be detained (again) at the border and asked questions like “why were you born in Iran?”, making me feel that there is something inherently “wrong” about people born in certain countries. I feel more at peace…AND yet, I am also reminded how far we are from where we want to and should be.

At the presidential inauguration, we heard some of the most beautiful and poetic words from Amanda Gorman:
“Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished…[T]here is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.”

There is always light, that is true. And to say something is broken, means this is a nation that was once whole, which we know was never the case. Indeed, it is unfinished.  Let us continue looking forward with the lessons of yesterday to create a nation we all deserve to live in, and let’s also remember what MLK stated: “only in the darkness can we see the stars”.

Elika Dadsetan-Foley, Executive Director, VISIONS