10 Arab Americans Urging You To Vote: Nizar Abulaila
By: Diala Ghneim/Arab America Contributing Writer
We spoke with ten Arab Americans about voting from different age groups, industries, and political orientations. They are teachers, lawyers, students, stay at home mothers, IT professionals, etc… They are active members of American society and they are all voting on November 3, 2020. In our first of ten stories highlighting Arab Americans, we interview Nizar Abulaila, and he shares his thoughts about voting.
AA: Tell us about your background, career, and immigration story.
NA: I am 56 years old and I was born in Russeifa, Jordan. Both of my parents were born in Kafr’Ana, Palestine, a town on the outskirts of Jaffa city. I consider myself a Jordanian American of Palestinian descent.
Why I was born in Russeifa and not in my parents’ town was because Israel took over Palestine in 1948. My parents were forced to immigrate to Jordan to start a family. I was raised in Russeifa, and I completed my high school education there. Growing up, we were very poor. My dad worked for a mineral company as a laborer, and my mom was a housewife who spent her years raising us.
I completed my bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Jordan in 1986. During the ’80s and mid-’90s, Jordan had mandatory military conscription for all men. I had to go in for a compulsory two-year army training right after graduation. When I completed it, I got engaged to my wife and I immigrated to the USA. We settled in the Chicago area.
In the beginning, I worked as a nurse’s aide in the early 90s until I passed my nursing board exam. Then, I started getting into my specialty which was working as a critical care nurse. After working in the nursing field for about nine years, my entrepreneurial spirit took over and I began exploring other fields on top of my nursing job. I started with real estate developments and gradually ventured into the fast-food industry. Currently, we own fast-food restaurants and we have built two gas stations. In 2019, I became an insurance agent and opened an Allstate insurance office. Very soon, I’m going to open up my Healthcare Staffing company which has been my dream for many years.
America is truthfully the land of opportunities; I am very grateful to be part of this great nation.
Why are you voting? What are the issues you care most about?
It is a blessing that we live in a democratic country and we need to keep it this way. There are freedom and equality for all, and voting helps sustain that. I am aware that different people have different experiences with freedom and equality in America. Voting is an opportunity to better change the situation and improve the quality of life for all. I also believe voting is a great chance to voice your opinion.
When casting my vote, I generally look at the candidates’ views on education, jobs, strengthening the economy, building a stronger free country, immigration, taxes, and healthcare.
In your opinion, what are the challenges that face the Arab/Muslim community in the US?
In my opinion, I believe Muslims in America face three major challenges: racial profiling, discrimination and Islamophobia.
What would you tell people from your community who believe their vote won’t make a difference?
If everyone thought that their votes did not matter, we would have ended up being one of the Middle Eastern countries, living under dictatorship leaders. I would simply tell all those people this ‘If you don’t vote, don’t complain.’ Don’t complain about outcomes, consequences, limited opportunities or racism. Go vote and make yourself heard.
What are your parting words for all healthcare professionals on voting?
Voting is a privilege and gives us the power to make change. Also, we can voice our concerns regarding the healthcare system and regarding nurses and patients. My previous point is very important, especially as recently, health care workers were required to keep the country at its feet during the pandemic. Our profession should vote now more than ever.
You can find your state and register to vote here.
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