Meet Fiana! Our Lead Fellow!

Georgia Shift gives marginalized young people a seat at the table of democracy through electoral action, hands-on advocacy and education, and civic media programs. We envision a Georgia where marginalized young people of color are the fundamental driver of political impact and public policy at every level of government in an unbridled democracy.We offer a few paid fellowship and internship opportunities throughout the year. Meet Fiana Arbab, our Lead Policy Fellow who has lead most of our state legislative planning this summer and helped professionally develop our other fellows. 

Fiana Arbab identifies as a Bangladeshi Muslim American and is a proud feminist. Before relocating to Georgia, she formerly served as the Statewise Youth Organizer for the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. In 2017, Fiana graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a double major in Women’s and Gender Studies and Psychology, and a minor in Sociology. Currently, she serves on several Michigan-based nonprofit boards including Women’s March Michigan, Michigan Student Power Alliance and Rising Voices of Asian American Families. Fiana will be obtaining a Master of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame starting in August 2019. She hopes to continue doing work that uplifts marginalized and oppressed groups through an intersectional transnational feminist analyisis, transformative collective organizing, and operating in the global development sector one day. 

  • Why is civic engagement important to you?

Civic engagement to me is the most accessible first step towards building collective political power for marginalized communities. Vulnerable communities have obstacles to having their voices heard due to historical trauma, inaccess to political information, and deprivation of capital (like generational poverty, working for poverty wages, etc.) preventing us from exercising our basic voting rights. Civic engagement also allows us to build relationships with one another in a society that undervalues relationships. However, if People of Culture can engage with opportunities that link our lived experiences with larger political analysis, we can take actions that impact our lives in positive ways. When we vote in politically informed ways; when we debate in politically informed ways; when we volunteer in the community to build community; then we can begin to identify and address issues of public concern through actions for empowerment. Civic engagement is the first step to building power and changing our collective future.”

  •  What are some issues in your community that concern you? 

“ This conversation is layered for me, because I identify with intersectional identities. Across my communities, the number one concern for me is internalized and interpersonal racism. Anti-blackness in the Bangladeshi, Muslim and (normative) American communities I participate in is real. We cannot progress as a people without addressing anit-blackness, in particular, in all of our communities in the United States and globally. I would also want us to discuss the colorism prevalent across communities, that is distinct from anti-Blackness, but relevant to, the hegemony/ proximity to Whiteness desired in marginalized groups. Additionally, across the Bangladeshi, Muslim and American communities we do not address sexual assault and domestic violence enough. Rape culture must be exposed and deemed intolerable collectively, and perpetrators must be held accountable within communities– not just discussed in theory.”

  • What are some things you wish could be addressed? 

“I wish we could collectively, as a People, learn our histories and effectively promote restorative justice and healing practices to truly move past traumas from genocide, slavery, massive rapes and rampage, and hegemony. I believe We will never move forward, beyond our histories of trauma, without transformative justice through reparations, recognition, and recovery.”

  • What’s the one thing you want people to know about you?

One thing I want people to know about me is that I am a proud Bangladeshi-Muslim-American transnational feminist, excited to influence the global development sector one day.”

Georgia Shift wants to thank Fiana! We look forward to working with her!