“Nothing/No one.” That is the translation for the Arabic word that my opponent in the Multnomah County judicial race used to sum up my work to reform our courts in a campaign flier available in Arabic.
Right there in my mother’s tongue. The language I spoke my first words in. In a flier aimed at the community that I have spent years serving. Aimed at other nonnative speakers and people of color like me.
I am sturdy, but I am glad I was alone on the morning of Indigenous People’s Day when I saw it. To wake up and see yourself, your lifetime of volunteer service to address systemic racism in Oregon’s legal community erased, felt like a sucker-punch, delivered with all the confidence of the establishment that doesn’t value all of us.
Eighteen years of days, late nights, early mornings are … nothing. The burden on my family of volunteer work on diversity and inclusion through state and local legal associations, recognized with the Oregon State Bar’s President’s Diversity & Inclusion Award, was … nothing.
Does this sound familiar to Black community members, people of color, LGBTQ and others outside the fence around the garden of privilege? It should. This is a classic method of the dominant culture — erasing our contributions, our leadership, our personhood.
But, as many before me, I will not be erased. This will fuel me to bring change. No matter what happens, I will continue to work to make Oregon more just and inclusive. Because we are all someone.
Rima Ghandour, Portland
Ghandour is a candidate for Multnomah County judge, position 12.