A collage with Ilhan Omar and a child kissing her, a microphone and a name card with her occupation ...

Ilhan Omar Appreciates The "Privilege" Of Advocating For Others During Quarantine

by Lilli Petersen
Elite Daily

As the coronavirus pandemic enters what feels like its millionth day, everyone is just trying to get through this as best they can. Whether you're taking the time to perfect your sourdough starter, volunteering to help others, or just marathon-watching Netflix, everyone has their own way of dealing with the effects of quarantine — and for U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), her pandemic coping mechanisms include doing what she can to make these tough times a little easier on everyone else.

Omar, 37, is one of the four young progressive congresswomen known as The Squad, and while Congress may have only recently gotten the work-from-home memo, that doesn't mean Omar's been idle. "This pandemic has only redoubled my commitment to creating a better life for working people in Minnesota and around the world," she says. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit high gear in March 2020, Omar's taken action by introducing legislation to cancel rent and mortgage payments, advocating for Medicare for All, and pushing for student loan debt forgiveness. Her quarantine life hasn't been all work, though. "My kids have been keeping me very entertained and well versed on the latest trends and TikTok videos," she jokes.

For Elite Daily, I asked Omar about all of the ways she's taking care of herself as many states remain under shelter-in-place orders as of late May 2020 amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Her answers are part of our How I Take Care platform, which features interviews with all the celebs, TV stars, influencers, vloggers, TikTokers, musicians, and politicians you love. If you're wondering what's keeping Omar motivated and grateful, here's what she said.

Her favorite quarantine pastime: Going on a lot of walks with her family.

The stores she can't wait to hit post-quarantine: Karmel Mall in Minneapolis, a Somali shopping center. "I get a lot of my clothes and hijabs there."

Playing music helps her feel good (as hell): "Listening to Lizzo always makes me feel more confident."

She's a little homesick.

I really miss being in Minnesota — whether it’s open streets or the state fair or a town hall, and just engaging with the people I represent. This makes me realize how lucky I am to have that connection to my community.

I'm really looking forward, post-quarantine, to my favorite summer activity (by far): going to the Minnesota State Fair. I love being able to connect with Minnesotans. I’m also a big fan of fair food. [Shortly after this interview, the 2020 Minnesota State Fair was officially canceled.]

She's grateful for the little things — and the big ones — about her situation in quarantine.

Quarantine has taught me how lucky I am, not only to have a supportive family, but to even be able to stay at home during this pandemic.

It’s also taught me how fragile so many of the comforts we take for granted are. Millions of Americans who were already struggling to make ends meet are now being asked to put their lives and their families' lives at risk [as essential workers]. Millions more have lost work as a result of this pandemic and need more than a one-time check.

Courtesy of Rep. Ilhan Omar

She's still fighting for other issues during the pandemic.

Don't forget, there is no vaccine out there to stop climate change. Society must take swift, bold action to combat climate change, and fight for a livable world for future generations.

Also, since schools have moved online — there haven’t been any school shootings. The 1999 Columbine High School shooting happened while I was in high school. I could never have imagined that my children would face the same fear my generation felt. I won’t stop fighting until no child suffers from gun violence.

She calls it an honor to try to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

As a member of Congress, I have the enormous privilege to advocate and introduce legislation to help people through this pandemic. Since the beginning of this crisis, I’ve introduced legislation to cancel rent and mortgage payments, expand SNAP online ordering eligibility, increase access to school meals, and cancel student loan debt.

But you don't have to be a member of Congress to take action and step up.

I recommend to all those reading this, please get involved. There are so many ways to help during this time, like donating to specific charities, volunteering at food banks, and calling your representatives to support legislation you believe in.

We are shining a spotlight on some of the millions of small businesses now challenged by COVID-19. This is part of an ongoing commitment our parent company, Bustle Digital Group, is making to support small businesses throughout the entire month of May. Tell us about your favorite small business on social media using #SmallBusinessSalutes.