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Allen, Texas

by Yaitova Spiegel

Two years ago, I moved to Allen, Texas to live with my mom. It was a stark contrast from Mariemont, Ohio – the town of 3,400 people that had been my home for the last 15 years. Allen, Texas is much more racially diverse. I have many friends and acquaintances here who are also people of color, and I often see people wearing hijabs. In contrast to this diversity, Mariemont’s population is over 90% white people. 

Many people living in Allen have a strong grasp of politics. Of course, some are sadly not interested in politics, specifically, in registering to vote, but plenty of others follow the news closely. I know at least five people who are or were working on political campaigns. 

On May 6th, 2023, eight people were murdered at the Allen Outlets Mall in Allen, Texas – a ten-minute drive from where I live. It hit very close to home, not only because it’s ten minutes away and because I’ve been there before, but also because I saw myself in the people who were tragically killed. I saw myself in Aishwarya Thatikonda, a young professional building her life in Texas. I saw myself in Kyu, Cindy and their three-year-old son, James Cho, who were Asian-American like me. It is scary to think it could have been me and my family if we had gone to the Allen Outlets that day.

The Allen Outlets shooting is part of my “why.” It is why I have to do whatever I can to help and protect people; people who all deserve to survive and thrive. Registering people to vote and encouraging them to be civically engaged is a crucial way to start doing this. People must use their voices and participate in politics because it directly affects them. In this case, a law preventing the purchase of assault rifles may have prevented this mass shooting.

Aishwharya Thatikonda, James Cho, Cindy Cho, Kyu Cho, Sophia Mendoza, Daniela Mendoza, Elio Cumana-Rivas, and Christian LaCour should still be here today. It will never be okay that they are not.

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