In the News: The United State of America elected Kamala Harris as its first Woman Vice President. To make things even sweeter, she’s also the first African-American and Asian-American in the role. Upon the announcement of the projected winner, the internet erupted in celebration and was littered with posts expressing how much representation matters and the encouragement this can give to little girls of color, around the world.
In my opinion: It’s so sad that Black women are still looking for role models. Don’t get me wrong, I think Kamala is fantastic. But in a moment of celebration it’s also quite telling to see how many Black little girls felt like “no one” looked like them before. I wonder if the Asian-American girls feel the same…
For years, I was the only dark-skinned woman in my family. I met my great grandmother when I was 13 and she was the only person I ever looked at and saw myself. Even though I know I look like my mother, I’ve struggled my entire life as people are blinded by skin color and comment on how much my sister looks like her, but not me. A few years ago, I finally met my Family in Cuba and, for the first time, felt like people definitely looked like me. Seeing pictures of my cousin Jane & I still blows my mind.
I’ve written about Kamala before, and I was actually rooting for her while she campaigned for President, but (as they say) this country still isn’t ready to see a woman in the seat of President. As I filled out my ballot, I can tell you with confidence that the only person I voted for, for sure, was Kamala. I also voted for all the other names that sounded like women of color. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit our own biases and I know mine.
I hope this “representation” isn’t just for little girls, but for grown women as well. I hope that no matter your age, you know that you can be whatever you want to be, as long as you work for it. It saddens me that most people need to see someone do a thing before they believe it’s possible. Kamala Harris did not inspire me to show my [future] daughter a picture of a stranger to encourage her. I am encouraged to be who my daughter can look up to. In general, Black women and other women of color are fetishized but never as beautiful as the blonde haired blue-eyed woman. When will those feelings be erased? When will we be able to move past what people might think about us and be who we desire to be?
There are names we seem to forget. I still think back to Michelle Obama. I know people think Beyonce is a phenom, but she’s a black woman. Maya Angelou. Toni Morrison. Dorothy Dandridge. Assata Shakur. Shirley Chisholm. Aretha Franklin. Billie Holiday. Sojourner Truth. Phillis Wheatley. Harriet Tubman. I encourage us to look back further and recognize the other women of color who have already moved mountains on our behalf. Kamala Harris might hold the highest office (so far) but she is not the beginning of the list. Representation matters in history as well. This has encouraged me to make sure that when I teach my future daughters about themselves, I don’t make the timeline seem as if it just started, rather that we’ve been working hard to get here, all along.
Dear Black Women, we’ve been doing this. Clap for us.