By Nadia Nisha Belkin (Chief of Staff, Ismailis Rise Up)
Elections are a fundamental part of a democracy — of the people, for the people, by the people. As citizens, we have the right to participate in the democratic process. Many within the Ismaili community in United States hail from other parts of the world where voting, open elections, and democracy are not at the underpinnings of the country’s foundations. Casting a vote means you are actively engaged in defining what your community and future looks like. A vote is our ‘power’ as citizens and is a right, not a privilege.
As Ismailis, we have been encouraged to engage and invest in the communities we reside in. We have been asked to improve the quality of life. We have been told to live and practice the values of: pluralism, diversity, and tolerance. Many in our Ismaili community have been mobilized and awakened in this moment because they are not seeing an expression or acceptance of those values in their community. Voting your values and living your values is synonymous.
At its core, Ismailis Rise Up (IRU) was founded with the purpose of building Ismaili political power around social and racial justice issues and elevating our community’s commitment to these causes. IRU is breaking down the knowledge barriers that often prevent people from participating in the democratic process — access to accurate information, in language education, etc. With that said, IRU is building the infrastructure – via trainings, regionally specific outreach activities – so that Ismailis can collectively organize, educate, and empower the Ismaili community to take voting seriously. The focus is on empowering the individual to maximize their impact as (voting rights) activists in their community.
Join the founding class of organizers in second session (October 4, 2020) by completing the form by October 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST. https://ismailisriseup.typeform.com/to/yi3bWNaK
This is a volunteer led effort but is staffed by professionals who have experience working on candidate, issue advocacy, and grassroots organizing campaigns. The IRU team has poured its energy into curating a training for our community to learn the nuts and bolts of electoral organizing in the age of a pandemic. The trainings have occurred once a month and will continue until the November election. The next Master Class is on October 4 from 12-2pm EST. IRU is pleased to share that it has trained over 100 organizers already and engages an intergenerational audience. Please note, IRU activities are focused on politically significant swing/battleground states – Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, California, Virginia and Michigan. As we know, these are also states with large Ismaili populations and are meeting our communities where they live so they can directly see the impact of their work.
How to Vote – Gujarati Language Translation. Video source: Ismailis Rise Up (YouTube)
IRU’s footprint is ever growing as we train more organizers to be trusted messengers in their community. We are responsive to the needs of our community and have created content in different languages (i.e. How to Vote videos in Hindi, Gujrati, Kutchi, and Farsi) and are active on various social media platforms like Medium, Instagram (@ismailisriseup), Facebook and YouTube.
The key to a successful democracy is participation. Harnessing the interest of many Ismailis to live their values and implement the ethics of our faith, IRU is committed to empowering and equipping community members with the proper tools to engage, discuss, and participate in the upcoming election and beyond.
Ismailis Rise Up campaign is unaffiliated with the Jamati institutions. This campaign does not claim to represent or speak on behalf of the Ismaili community. This campaign does not endorse or donate money to political candidates.