“But [my mother] believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible. So, I’m thinking about her and the generations of women – Black Women. Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”Kamala Harris, November 7, 2020
Tears of joy. Waves of relief. Sounds of hope and celebration. That is what the United States’ 2020 Presidential Election has brought to millions worldwide. As a white woman, it is hard for me to fully comprehend what this moment means. My privilege means I do not face the struggles that so many others do. I have never known victimization because of my skin color, my religious beliefs, or my socioeconomic background. I have felt the victimization inherent in being a female, but beyond that, my skin – and its heritage – has protected me.
Yet I recognize that the election of Kamala Harris, while a victory for females who have long hoped for the first female Vice President, is not just a victory for women. It is a victory that is much more meaningful and empowering for Black and Indigenous People of Color, especially BIPOC girls. They now more fully feel the meaning of “We the People” – a phrase that should include all the people. America – my America – is no longer one where white men call the shots. Since its very founding, women and people of color have fought to be included in “We the People” and recognized with all the rights and liberties that white men have so long enjoyed.
Today, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris made a giant leap for us towards that goal.
Harris is the first female and first woman of color to hold the office of Vice President. She is also many other firsts as a Vice President: the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India (making her the first Black and South Asian), earned her undergraduate degree in political science and economics at the historically black Howard University, and was a sorority member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. These build on Harris’s many other achievements: being elected in 2017 as the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history, serving as the first African-American and first woman Attorney General for California, and serving as a District Attorney and starting a program that gave first-time drug offenders the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment (thus breaking the prison pipeline notorious for increasing changes that offenders of color are reincarcerated). Her record also includes landmark wins for climate change, the Affordable Care Act, marriage equality, and prosecuting transnational trafficking in guns, drugs, and human beings. Her record screams loudly that she is here for all Americans – and dedicated to ensuring the rights and equality of BIPOC Americans.
What that means for people of color – and especially girls of color – is glass-ceiling-shattering.
Harris is already a role model. Girls like 11-year-old Katerina Shadrach, of South Asian and White descent, were seen at numerous rallies and talks holding copies of Harris’s memoir, The Truths We Hold, as they watched her campaign take shape. Shadrach hopes to be a Senator, quoting Harris’s own ambition as a chart for her path towards that goal. As 14-year-old Paris Bond told CNN in August, “It just feels like Black girls like me can run for class president, Black girls like me can go for the big things in life like she did.”
But perhaps nothing sums up this moment and what it means for girls more than Harris herself:
I am thrilled, honored, blessed to witness this moment – not just for myself, but more importantly, for all girls everywhere. This is your moment. This is our message to you. Dream, girls. Dream BIG. And go for it. We will applaud you every step of the way.
Program Developer, Girl Museum