Opinion: What Kamala Harris winning means to People of Color

I will never forget when I found out the results of the 2016 Presidential election. I did my civic duty and voted earlier that day…

I will never forget when I found out the results of the 2016 Presidential election. I did my civic duty and voted earlier that day before I went to work, and I just knew that Hilary Clinton would win. However, when I got home from work, the results sadly mistook me. When I found out that Donald Trump won the election, my heart sank in my chest. I asked myself, “how could this happen?’ From my understanding, all of the polls indicated that Hilary Clinton was leading and would be the first female president. When I saw Donald Trump’s picture and name plastered across every major network, I felt a shift within myself and a shift within this country. It seemed that racism was more overt instead of lurking in the shadows. More videos of people of color experiencing harassment started to pop up on my Twitter feed and being a Black woman in the world felt different. I thought that I had no place in this world, and I had to sink into the shadows to get by. At the time, I was a predominantly white institution student, and I felt uncomfortable being the minority. Within the next three years, I saw more racism incidents around me, and I felt that Donald Trump was merely fanning the flame. I knew that a change was imminent and necessary.

When the announcement came that Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris, a senator from California, as his vice-presidential candidate, I was happy that he wanted a woman as his running mate. Once I started researching Kamala, I saw pieces of myself within her. Being the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, her mother taught her to be “a strong Black woman.” She also spoke of her job as a former prosecutor and how she had to take on strong adversaries to protect the little people. When I was growing up, my parents instilled the same morals in me; Kamala Harris, as a vice-presidential candidate, shows people of color that they can hold power within high places. It shows people of color that you do not have to be defined by your skin color or the way you grew up. In her acceptance speech, she referred to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and historically black colleges and universities, which I’ve personally never seen from a vice-presidential candidate. When Joe and Kamala officially won the election, and Kamala formally became the first Black female Vice-President, I felt another shift within myself, this time in a positive direction. For the first time, I felt hopeful that anything was possible. I felt a sense of pride for little brown skin girls around this country. To have someone in such a high position that looks like them could show them that they could honestly do anything if they believe in themselves. As Kamala stated in her post-election speech, “I may be the first woman to hold this office, but I won’t be the last.”

The 2020 Presidential election was one like I’ve never seen before, and I’m glad that the results were what they were. With Kamala Harris making history as the first Black woman to become Vice President, I feel that it is a big step toward the country and Black culture. It is inspiring to be a Black woman and see someone who looks like you in a high position of power; it makes you feel that you can accomplish the same thing one day. It shows Black women and women of color that you do not have to shrink into the shadows, but instead, you can rise to the light. People may try to bring you down, but hold yourself to a higher standard, and you can go far.

By: Lauren McKeithen

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