A narrative we often hear about Millennials is that they're lazy and not involved in politics. Aisha Wahab, who's running for city council in Hayward, California, begs to differ. KQED's weekly pop culture podcast, The Cooler, sat down with her to talk about her experience on the campaign trail, why she's proud to be a Millennial, how her Afghan-American identity has shaped her candidacy, and more.
On the catalyst that inspired her to run
"I always say: 'If you don't see the woman, be the woman.' After organizing with folks from the Women's March, I said, you know what? I'm [going to] toss my hat in the ring and walk and talk exactly what I say."
On the idea of Millennials being lazy
"I'm so tired of hearing about Millennials from people who aren't Millennials. I know Millennials to be some of the hardest working people out there. I think our generation is very much about action. And so, as much as people want to degrade Millennials, I feel very proud to be a Millennial. We're probably one of the most informed generations out there. So don't knock it unless you're a Millennial!"
On encountering ignorance over her Afghan-American identity
"I knew racism would be a problem. I knew that my age would be a problem. I knew my gender would be a problem. However, I didn't think it would be as big of a problem as I've actually run into. There hasn't been a day that I haven't heard something racist said to me... Someone said, 'She's clearly not American. Look at her face.'... It really begs the question as to when are we seen as American enough. I'm born and raised here. My entire family is here. It's all I know. I speak English. I'm educated here. I want to serve my community. So when am I going to be seen as American?"
On the need to see each other as human
"We've always heard that race is a social construct. It very much is. At the end of the day, it's a human being you're talking about. They have the same desires as anybody else. You want to raise your family in safety. You want to be able to pursue an education. You want to be able to have a roof over your head. These are the same qualities that every single ethnicity around the world wants."
To hear all these moments and so much more, listen to the full episode: