DENVER — April is Arab American Heritage Month in Colorado.
It’s a time to recognize Arab American Coloradans who are making a difference in our community.
One of them is state Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. She reached out to Gov. Jared Polis to proclaim April as Arab American Heritage Month back in 2019.
“It is my hope that our neighbors look at Arab Americans and honor this month as a way to recognize the contributions that Arab Americans have made to the fabric of our society,” Jodeh said. “To understand that when we are in spaces, we are not a box to be checked, but we are there, in fact, to help, to assist, to contribute and to influence decisions.”
Jodeh says the past year in the pandemic has been just as hard on Arab Americans as everyone else, especially now as Muslims celebrate Ramadan.
Jodeh’s office has set up vaccination clinics to help community members receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Just like all BIPOC communities, we are experiencing some vaccine deserts, and we are doing our best to fill those deserts,” Jodeh said.
She says she has worked with the Colorado Muslim Society to help vaccination rates.
And working for Coloradans as the first Muslim and first Arab woman in the state legislature is not a responsibility she takes lightly.
“I recognize the awesome responsibility and the honor that I shoulder,” Jodeh said. “I want to use this platform to inspire young Arab Americans, to inspire young brown and Black girls, to understand that they see themselves in their representation and that being in those halls is not a luxury, but, in fact, their right. And I want them to feel inspired to sit in their power and advocate that they can feel they can do whatever they feel and want to do.”
Jodeh is sponsoring a bill to help create the Office of New Americans this legislative session, which is a centralized hub where new Americans, immigrants and refugees can find resources.