“There will be a resistance to your ambition. There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane,’ because they are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don’t let that burden you.” – Senator Kamala Harris on a live stream conversation for 2020 Black Girls Lead conference
When Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate in 1984, I was joyful that the defeat of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the women’s movement of the 1970s hadn’t translated to a total wipe-out of our opportunities for political office at the highest level in America. I was optimistic. Incumbents Reagan and Bush (GHW) won 49 of the 50 states.
When Hillary Clinton was nominated 32 years later in 2016 by the Democratic party to be the president of the United States, I was ecstatic at the prospect of finally having a woman as commander-in-chief. I was optimistic for the defeat of Republican nominee Trump particularly after his misogynistic remarks during the “nasty” campaign. The election results showing Clinton’s win of the popular votes but the electoral college majority supporting Trump made for dismay, tears, depression, you name it that night in our home as well as the next 4 years of enduring a president who delivered on his campaign agenda of serving the wealthy at the expense of the poor, dividing the country through white nationalists at the expense of people of color, punishing refugees seeking asylum by separating parents from children and detaining them at our borders in inhumane conditions.
This past week I was giddy when I watched Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden select Senator Kamala Harris to be his vice presidential running mate in the 2020 election scheduled for November 3rd. I celebrated her choice not only because she is a woman but also because she is a woman of color born in California to a mother who immigrated from India and a father who immigrated from Jamaica. Her parents met at Berkeley through their activism in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. A first for Black women and a validation of their support of Biden that pushed him over the finish line here in South Carolina at a time when his candidacy was in jeopardy – and not just for their support of Biden. Black women are the most reliable voting constituency for the Democratic party in many local, state and federal elections. As Harris herself says on the campaign trail, ” I hear you. I see you.” I am once again optimistic for the election of a woman whose very presence on the ticket reflects more nearly the diversity of our country.
Many call the 2020 election an inflection point for America. In the midst of a world wide Covid pandemic that has been routinely dismissed by the administration in the West Wing, a tremendous social upheaval against systemic racism by Black Lives Matter that intensified with the murder of George Floyd, the grief over the loss of Congressman John Lewis – we have an opportunity to correct the go it alone policies of isolation that foster fear for our allies and hope for our enemies. The times they are a-changing for sure.
“There will be a resistance to your ambition. There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane,’ because they are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don’t let that burden you.”
It’s time to shake off the burdens of intolerance, hunger, inequalities in education, health care and housing, police brutality against minorities – the politics of divisiveness that have blinded us for centuries. Senator Harris is not out of her lane. We shouldn’t be either. Be woke, America. Vote.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned.