OC 100 Most Influential 2016: Rida Hamida
By Deepa Bharath
Role: Senior adviser and senior community liaison for the U.S. House of Representatives
Bio: Hamida is a first-generation Palestinian American Muslim who serves as president of the Arab American Chamber of California, vice chairwoman of the Refugee Forum of Orange County and vice chairwoman of the Anaheim Cultural Heritage Commission. Hamida lives in Anaheim with her 17-year-old son.
Why she is an influencer: Hamida led a program called “Adventures of Al-Andalus,” partnering with Valley High teacher Benjamin Vazquez to bring the Muslim and Latino communities together by learning about their common roots in Spain’s Andalusian Empire. She also participated in a panel discussion titled “Women of Color, Uniting the Party, Leading the Country – Democracy of Color” during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Biggest challenge: “Being a proud American and having to constantly prove my Americanness.”
Thoughts on activism: “The most important thing is to build partnerships between communities that are experiencing injustice. My passion is to fight for justice for all.”
Inspiration: The U.S. Constitution. “I’ve memorized the Constitution and my rights, especially the First Amendment. In everything I do, I think about my rights and the rights of others.”
Can’t live without besides my phone: “My pink hijab. I wear it with pride. It’s my identity, my happiness. It completes and liberates me.” Hamida is the first hijab-wearing woman to serve in public office in Orange County.
What’s next: “Continue to serve in public office and continue bringing communities together through ‘Adventures of Al-Andalus’ and other initiatives.”