#TweetYourThobe: Honoring the First Palestinian-American Congresswoman

Photo: Maha Saca collection, Palestinian Heritage Center, Bethlehem, Palestine.

Yesterday, Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, made history as the first Palestinian-American woman to be sworn into Congress.  Unlike her counterpart from Michigan, Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican who rarely nods to his Palestinian roots, Tlaib has not shied from proudly celebrating her heritage. On election night, she draped a Palestinian flag over her shoulder; and recently, she became the first member of Congress to endorse the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement and announced she’s organizing her own Congressional trip to the Occupied Territories in opposition to the whitewashed tour of Israel offered to freshmen Congresspersons by the Israel lobby.

[From the Journal of Palestine Studies | Palestinian Women – Shared Struggle, Diverse Experiences]

Last month, to mark her very first day on Capitol Hill, Tlaib shared a photo with her followers on Instagram of the traditional Palestinian thobe, an embroidered dress, she’d be wearing on her inauguration day. Writing in Elle, Tlaib explained her decision, “Throughout my career in public service, the residents I have had the privilege of fighting for have embraced who I am, especially my Palestinian roots. This is what I want to bring to the United States Congress, an unapologetic display of the fabric of the people in this country. ”

The post received over 11,000 likes and inspired novelist Susan Muaddi Darraj to join Tlaib in the historic occasion. Darraj started a private Facebook group and came up with the hashtag #TweetYourThobe to encourage Palestinian women around the world to share photos of their thobes in honor of Rep. Tlaib on January 3rd, the day Rep. Tlaib was inaugurated.

[Stitching Threads of Identity: The Embroidered Journey of a Palestinian Artist in Diaspora]

A thobe is a traditional embroidered Palestinian gown, worn during special occasions, either joyous or somber, to evoke a particular emotion. The embroidery often includes symbols and patterns unique to many Palestinian villages throughout historic Palestine. Tlaib’s thobe has a cypress, a traditional symbol of resilience. Moreover, a thobe is often a generational keepsake, passed down from mothers to daughters, and often sowed by grandmothers.

Yesterday, Palestinian women in the U.S. and around the world joined celebrated Rep. Tlaib’s inauguration and joined the campaign to share photos of their thobes.

The viral hashtag also received attention on Facebook and Instagram.

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