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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Why representation matters

As a Black woman there are so many things that the world tells you that you cannot become. Sometimes it's explicit, people telling you that that’s not how a black person should act, or telling you that you that there’s certain things women cannot achieve or should not be. That stings, but you can brush hateful individuals off. But, what is almost more harmful is the way that implicit biases can quietly crawl into your physique and effect the way that Black women think about themselves and what they can achieve. The election of Kamala Harris, as the vice president of the United States, will be a positive force to stopping that.

You don't always see a lot of Black women holding high places. I know it can be hard for some to believe that racism and sexism still work in tandem to hold Black women back, but it can be seen in any sector. As a Black women we constantly look around and see ourselves negatively represented or not represented at all and when we speak about this we see ourselves become the butt of the joke. Our voices are constantly excluded, discounted and ignored by others. As I’ve grown I’ve seen more and more black women achieve things that so many people in the world thought they were incapable of because of the color of their skin and their gender.

Last week I saw a proud Black woman earn a seat at one of the most powerful seats at the table in the world. I watched as Kamala Harris, with so much genuine joy and on her face was sworn in as the first HBCU grad, first AKA (Skee-wee!), first woman, first black woman and asian women (basically just the first non white male) to be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States. And no, that doesn’t automatically get rid of the discrimination that Black women face, but it gives us a seat at the table and it validates our importance and our power to the world and is important representation for not just Black women (but most importantly Black women!!) but woman of color around the world.

I may have shed a tear or two watching Kamala Harris take the oath of office. Maybe, just a

few because the impact of this moment will be felt forever. We will never know another time in America where a Black woman hasn’t been the Vice President of the United States. And that’s not only important for little Black girls to see, but for everyone to see. As a Black woman, raised by a Black woman, with sisters and cousins and best friends who are Black women, I know that Black women can achieve anything they want. I’ve seen it time and time again, whether it be photography, writing, engineering, coding, fashion design, swimming, or anything else. I’ve seen Black woman not only conquer it, but do it better than anyone else. So Kamala, being elected the Vice President isn’t surprising to me, but I think that it will be surprising to some and be a wake up call to the world to all of the greatness that Black women are.

Beyond her icon status, let’s talk politics for a minute: I know on twitter, Kamala is somewhat of a controversial twitter. She may not be the first black VP that every Black women wanted. Her past as a prosecutor leaves some a little hesitant about her record and what she is about. But, I’m kind (very much so) of a Kamala stan. Since she has been a senator, I have looked up to and admired her. She goes after what she wants with tenacity and strength, she didn’t let being the only Black woman in the senate (and only the second all time!) get to her or change who she was. She proudly and confidently put people in their place when it was needed and she continued to fight for Black communities (& had one of the most progressive voting histories). My take on the controversy surrounding her is this; as a prosecutor the rules were already set. She didn’t have the authority to completely change the laws that would keep people who had simple infractions for drugs from being prosecuted, but she often did try to ease the sentences when she could, especially when it came to California’s three strikes law. I also acknowledge that she wasn’t perfect as a prosecutor, especially during a time when the tough on crime rhetoric was continually pushed. As a prosecutor, Kamala didn’t write the laws, she enforced them, when she stepped into her role as a Senator she had the authority to change things by writing the laws. Many of the bills that she did write call for reform of the criminal “justice” system that she operated in as a prosecutor and as attorney general such as her bail reform bill and decriminalizing marijuana. Beyond her politics, I think she is an amazing person, she brings tenacity and genuineness to politics. She’s constantly confident in being her (Black!) self. Harris isn’t a perfect politician, I don’t think a perfect political is even a thing but, her role now is bigger than politics; it’s representation.

Representation is everything. It shows the people who are represented that they can do something extraordinary, it validates us, gives us confidence and a role model to look up to. It shows the people around us that we are a force to reckoned with, that we should be taken seriously and never be discounted. Representation isn’t just good for Black women, it’s good for everyone. And if your socials are anything like mine, you’re already seeing the hope she brings and how inspiring she is to so many, including the youngest generations. Kamala Harris is representation and that impact is going to last far beyond the tenure of her vice-presidency.

On that note,

Black women can do anything and are everything! Never forget!!


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