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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a week.
But since Sunday, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was among four first-year, progressive non-white Democratic congresswomen singled out in one of Donald Trump’s tweet-attacks, this one decidedly racist, telling the women to “go back” to the countries they came from.
However, only Omar was actually born outside of the United States. A refugee from Somalia, she has been a naturalized citizen since 2000.
The racist focus on Omar only grew, as Trump supporters began chanting, “Send her back!” during a Wednesday night campaign rally in North Carolina.
For the nation, the event sparked convulsions of racism that continue today. But for Omar, it’s been a highly personal experience.
She responded to this extraordinary pressure with grace, posting on Twitter a quote from a Maya Angelou poem;
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Omar also shared a meal with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of the two-dozen or so hopefuls vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders shared the experience with his supporters in a Thursday email.
“Last night, I was at dinner with Ilhan Omar, her daughter, and some other members of Congress when we heard the news that thousands of people at a Donald Trump rally were chanting ‘send her back,'” Sanders wrote.
“To my surprise, Ilhan was pretty unfazed. Sadly, as she told me, she has been dealing with this kind of hatred and racism for a long time,” he added.
At week’s end, however, the congresswoman was able to fly home, where she was greeted at the airport by a throng of well-wishers all chanting: “Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan!”