August 24, 2023
Mayor Eric Adams: So I want you to first acknowledge the fact that this is the first time in history, 110 mayors later, that we are hosting an Arab American event here in Gracie Mansion. And let me tell you why, you do your own research. Here's where I have been. I have been to Lebanon, I have been to Jordan, I have been to Egypt, I have been to Dubai, I have been to Abu Dhabi, I have been to Morocco, I have been to Saudi Arabia. And every list that I didn't get to, trust me, I will get there. Palestine, I'll get to Syria, I will get to your countries because if you appreciate a culture, then you should also visit that culture to get a full understanding because the uniqueness of America is that this is the only country where you are told not to give up your culture as you embrace your new culture called America. In fact, our secret weapon is that we bring all of our cultures together to live as one.
And people constantly try to pull me into different corners, tell me I must be one way or another, that you cannot appreciate the diversity of the cultures. That is not going to happen. If I walk in the room with a group of my Haitian brothers and sisters, I'm going to say sak pase. If I walk into a room of my Spanish speaking, I'm going to say buenos dias. If I'm walking in a room of my Arab brothers and sisters, I'm going to say as-salamu alaykum. No matter where I go, I'm going to greet you with the same level of respect and dignity that you deserve. We're at a pivotal moment right now in our city and in our country.
We know how to be divided. We know how to put ourselves apart. We know how to say what's wrong with each other. We know how to live in our own silos and be separate. Now, let's show the globe how do we live together. Now, let's show how Jews and Christians and Muslims and Sikhs and atheists and all other groups can come together and say the uniformity of saying we all have the right to raise healthy children and families in our city is what we are fighting for. That is what we are fighting for.
And I'm an eternal optimist. Everyone I come in contact with I come in contact with seeing the best of them because we're so far better than what we're seeing. And you know that more than I do. You come to this country, you work hard, you believe in family, you believe in education, you believe in public safety. The same thing with so many other immigrant groups believe in your contribution have been unbelievable in healthcare and science and mathematics and teaching and small businesses. You contribute to this country. And I want to say thank you for your support for being there over and over again.
And there's one thing that we all agree on, that no matter where you're from, we know baklava came from the Middle East and Turkey. My six trips to Turkey. And to all of my leadership here, Kristin, who is my chief of staff for our governmental affairs. Or my brother Bahi, who has been with me for so many years and so many other leaders, Sherif, who plays a pivotal role in the everyday navigating of our city. To my brother Fabien Levy, first Iraqi ever to be a deputy mayor in the City of New York.
You look through the list because being mayor is not only symbolic by raising flags as we're going to do the Yemeni flag we're going to raise in a few days. That's symbolism, but it's also about being substance. We must do substantive things like making sure we had halal food in our schools so the young people can have halal food.
Creating places so that you can pray when you want to. Opening this city and making this city a city that historically was only representative to certain groups. We have changed that dynamic and changed that game by allowing everyone to be part of what the city has to offer. Over and over again you're hearing about the first, the first, the first. Because we know we would never be a great city if you don't see yourself in government, if you don't see yourself in power, if you don't see selves on the loins of Gracie Mansion.
And so in my conclusion, I want you to know this is a place you could be proud of. [Speaks in Arabic]. My house is your house. This is your Gracie Mansion. I am your mayor. You are my citizens. You are my neighbors, you are my friends. And this community means so much to me. Thank you so much for coming out tonight.