“My family immigrated to the United States from Baghdad, Iraq in 1971 when I was 5 years old. They left their entire family and a dictatorship that became increasingly more violent and oppressive over the years. Voting was not an option under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. People could not speak out against the government let alone voice their opinions to family or friends in fear of being let on to Iraqi intelligence. I used to say that my aunts, uncles and cousins were afraid of their dreams as the culture of surveillance and fear was so pervasive. I was lucky in more ways than one and not to live through that experience and the wars that ensued in Iraq is one of those ways.
While so many of us complain about the problems, injustices and “culture wars” we face here in the United States, at least we can voice our dissent. More than that, we can vote and push for change. Judging and maltreating people based on the color of their skin is, unfortunately, an old human calamity that must change. Yet, while change doesn’t always happen as quickly as we want, we must not be cynical and have to believe in better. All in all, voting means that you do not take your democracy for granted. For those who could only dream to voice their opinion, stand in their shoes and vote!
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As a Numi co-founder, I would like to posit the values that Numi stands for and the values I am voting in. While in normal times I would simply state that there is value in your vote and not express my opinion on political matters, these do not feel like normal times. The contrast in values each presidential candidate represents is all too clear and contrasting. I believe it’s imperative to wake up to those values and vote them in because we are projecting those shared values into the future of our country.
The first premise is openness to change. It is one of Numi’s strengths. Our ability as a small company to be flexible and nimble; our courage to be different; our innovation of new teas and herbs that we have uniquely brought to America; our love of other cultures and the openness exposure to other cultures brings. Along those lines, a basic premise we stand for at Numi is a certain level of professionalism, maturity and measuredness. One candidate shows all signs of those where the other in his attitudes and words acts childish, immature, and as many have described, “unhinged”.
Numi is founded by a brother and sister. Family is the most important value we hold. I remember a time when family values used to be a running platform. I watched both conventions and with one candidate, there was no lifelong video portraying his childhood, no relatable family stories, no recollection or memory of a dear or deceased family member. Meanwhile on the other side, there was an over pouring of family portraits and stories, wise teachings and encouragement from a mother and father, heartfelt eulogies of a son who passed to cancer. If you paid attention, you may have noted that in speeches by his wife and kids, Donald Trump was consistently and stoically called “my husband” or “my father” while Biden was simply and endearingly called Joe or dad. Who do we relate to more as a father, husband, son, brother, grandfather, uncle? Clearly, one family is dysfunctional and the other more aspirational. It’s fundamentally time to ask which family values we want to stand behind as a country?
Numi is an inclusive, generous and kind company. Our values of Celebrating People, Nurturing Growth, Embracing Possibilities and Be the Change is what we strive for in our interactions with our teammates, customers, vendors and consumers. We are awarded based on measuring up to these behaviors. It means we aim to be authentic and honest, respectful and kind, learning and improving, asking “what if?” and forward-thinking. We take responsibility for our mistakes, assume positive intent and look for solutions rather than blame. One can be direct and respectful; admit to a mistake, be humble and show leadership by example. It’s a both/and. From a company purview, the current administration looks from the outside to be a hostile work environment one wouldn’t want to work for. Furthermore, a convention that sends mixed messages on race issues: stating on the one hand that there is systemic racism we must fight against yet amplifying a call to preserve the suburbs on the premise of increased violence in an overt platform to continue segregation policies against Black Americans rather than integration is shocking to me in the year 2020! Which values do we want to pass on to our children? Inclusivity, dignity and respect or dishonesty, divisiveness and disdain?
There is so much I can say, but I will end with this. Numi is a company that cares about its global community. We sell organic tea, a soothing healthy beverage that is hopefully essential during this time. We care about the welfare of our farmers and engage in Fair Trade and Fair Labor practices so workers receive equitable wages which helps to improve their livelihoods and communities. We care about the earth and practice regenerative organic agriculture, source sustainable and compostable packaging and offset our carbon emissions to draw down global warming. We have provided clean, safe drinking water and sanitation to over 10,500 people in our farming communities, because we believe everyone deserves clean water. And, recently, we’ve delivered over 250,000 pounds of fresh produce to low income families who lack work or access to good healthy food due to this global pandemic.
While I am generally not a fan of media because I believe much of it on both sides of the political aisle is hyped – more opinion than fact and context, clearly on the question of care since the COVID-19 outbreak, this administration has failed. Topping 200,000 deaths, the United States is in the top 10 countries of deaths per capita. The administration hasn’t provided clear direction on how to take care of ourselves or others; rather, has shifted blame and taken a more divisive political stance on health, safety and medicine. Through action, which speaks louder than words, Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention and at his rallies remains at a 6-foot distance from others yet does not care to enforce 6-feet distancing or mask-wearing for his audience. In other words, he cares to protect himself from catching the virus and getting sick but does not care to protect his country.
My family immigrated to the United States almost 50 years ago. We paved the way for other family members to come over. We are proud Arab, Muslim Americans who have embraced the pursuits the founders envisioned for all. We are part of the rich fabric that makes America Great. While we have the freedom to support any candidate we wish and do, I stand up to the values Numi is founded on and put my personal values behind my vote. I hope you will too.
– Reem Hassani
Co-founder & Chief Brand Officer, Numi