Although politics can be a sensitive subject for us to talk about and with good reason, there were some important and positive political gains that were made in 2018 by Black women and women of color that remind me that there is hope, all is not for naught and that we must continue the good fight. In fact, now more than ever I believe do we need these positive reminders, especially being a Black person living in America in 2019.
From the November midterm elections, women of color across the nation nabbed political seats.
Some of those include:
Democrat Ayanna Pressley, who became the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. (So surreal because she is from where I am from!)
Democrat Lauren Underwood who became one of the youngest black candidates elected to Congress.
Jahana Hayes, who became the first Black woman elected to Congress from Connecticut.
There were also two Native American women elected to Congress, Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland. Additionally, two Muslim women secured seats in Congress, Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's nominee. Smh that it took so long for it to happen but these are wins nonetheless. And because of these wins, more women of color are considering running for President in 2020. For example, recently California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris said she was considering running for President in 2020 but that “it will ultimately be a family decision. And over the holiday, I will make that decision with my family." Although it's not a definite yes, it sounds like a maybe and I will happily take a maybe.
In Harris County, Texas, 17 Black women were sworn in as judges, #BlackGirlMagic indeed! These Black women made history for it was a first for Harris County. There were also two important amendments that were passed.
“Amendment 4 restored voting rights to 1.4 million ex-felons in Florida.” Previously, approximately 21.5 percent of Black people couldn’t vote. Additionally, in Nashville, Amendment 1 created “a new citizen-led panel to hold the police accountable.” Yes, women of color did not come to play this election season! Although not every person of color who ran won, most notably Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, we made strides in changing the underrepresentation of women of color in elected offices. We know from the results of the Presidential 2016 elections the importance of being involved in politics at all levels, especially at the local level. Despite the numerous obstacles that some Black voters faced on election day with voter suppression tactics, we accounted for 12 percent of the votes. Though it was a one percent drop from the 2016 midterms, those votes still made a positive impact.
While there is still a ways to go, it does bring me some comfort and inspiration to see more women, who look like me and who have similar ideologies that I have in seats of power, where policy changes can happen. We know representation matters and “research has shown that black women’s voices are the most likely to be overlooked in policymaking, according to Rutgers University’s Kelly Dittmar.” Unsurprising and sadly so. Therefore, increasing the representation of Black women in government roles is paramount in “promoting policy priorities, perspectives, and solutions that may be lost." I look forward to seeing what will be accomplished because of these political gains and who knows? Maybe 2020 will be the year that a Black woman gets elected President!