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Our Fellow Americans, In Their Own Words

Each of these brave Seattleites makes us even more proud to call this city home.

By Matthew Halverson January 19, 2017 Published in the February 2017 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: Andrew Waits

Nebil Mohammed

Activist and Hookah Lounge Owner 

"Right now there are a lot of problems within Seattle’s East African people, especially among the Somali, Ethiopian, and Eritrean communities. Youngsters are misguided, but I can talk their language and show them it’s okay to work hard and get somewhere. I’m not going to be stern and stiff."  As told to Matthew Halverson


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Image: Mike Kane

Danni Askini

Transgender Activist  

"I get calls from people who are sexually assaulted or harassed on the bus by strangers. And then other bystanders do nothing or laugh. I don’t think people understand how deeply, emotionally devastating that is, to have nobody stand up for you when someone is assailing you…. But my job is to go around and give people hope. And…when I talk to parents who have six-year-old kids in Spokane Valley, which is a pretty conservative community, and they talk about their kids’ experiences, that gives me hope. It gives me hope that we are moving, we are shifting things. We are creating possibility. And eventually there will be a time when people are not afraid of us." 


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Image: Brandon Hill

Lindy West


"I’m a straight, cisgendered white woman who’s just fat in a fairly conventional shape. The people who really inspire me the most are queer, trans people of color, fat people of color, who get the least praise, the least money, the least attention, but are really doing the hardest and most important work. So the way that I, as a white woman, try to be an ally to people of color and trans people and people from different marginalized groups is by listening to and amplifying the voices of people from those groups, rather than explaining what I think they think and feel." 

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Image: John Keatley


Undocumented Immigrant

"We are all scared. I did wrong. I recognize that. I came here illegally. I did it the wrong way. But everybody in this country knows that, and they still let us work for them. I’ve been in this country for 20 years, and I’ve been good. And then let’s say they kick me out and I have to go back to Mexico. To me, it feels not fair. Even if we want to make things right, they won’t let us."


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Tarah Wheeler

Author, Tech Evangelist 

"Women don’t realize their power. Once, during a seminar on interviewing for tech jobs, I said, “You guys have to realize that when they give you the first offer, this is Minute Zero in the gender pay gap.” And that’s because many women say, “Thank you, this sounds great,” instead of saying, “Well, that’s not what I was expecting to hear, but I guess it can be a starting point for our negotiations.” Well, one of the attendees said, “I’m scared that if I come back with another number, they’re going to think that I’m a bitch or that I’m hard to deal with.” All I could think to say was, “So?”"


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Dan Savage

 LGBTQ Activist and Writer 

"The It Gets Better project started in 2010, so I’m meeting people who are 22 who were 15 or 16 when it started. They approach me in restaurants or airports, just sobbing because it saved their lives. It hasn’t saved every life. But we should celebrate the progress we’ve made, because that is the best argument for making yet more progress, for defeating the right-wingers who are blocking our progress."


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Image: Mike Kane

Inderpal Singh

Sikh Activist 

"There is a sentence that the gurus have given us: “Work hard and share with others.” If God has made me capable of being successful or earning more or doing better, I should be sharing my wealth or ability with other needy people. In Sikh gurdwaras, we provide food for the homeless and we provide food to shelters. So we have a community kitchen, and whosoever can come and eat there—irrespective of their race or religion. All four doors are open. We have a golden temple back in India, and it has four doors. The universal message of four doors is “open to all.” Simple as that." 

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