On January 20th, women around the world witnessed a huge moment in history— Kamala Harris sworn in as Vice President of the United States. Despite being Canadian, I still followed the election, watched the debates and any other news relating. At first, I had mixed feelings. I wondered if people were more concerned about Kamala’s heritage than what her stance was on issues in the U.S. I’d seen so many different posts circulating on Instagram, all with different opinions. Some people couldn’t be happier, after all, we’ve never seen a Black or South Asian woman in this position before. That alone made her candidacy worthy of celebrating. On the other hand, others said her heritage didn’t matter if her plans for the country weren’t going to be helpful to the citizens— also a very valid point. Still, I couldn’t help but feel excited whenever I saw her.
On the day of the inauguration, I tuned in of course, mainly wanting to watch the candidates sworn in and give their speeches. Watching Kamala, dressed beautifully, sitting there amongst Joe Biden and the other guests, was powerful. When she was sworn in and later gave her speech, I felt a number of emotions swell inside of me. I fought back tears at a few moments because I wasn’t sure why it was I felt that much emotion. But the fact is, as a Brown girl, as an Indo-Caribbean woman, I grew up never seeing myself represented in media and powerful positions. Even to this day, while there is more representation than there was in my childhood, it’s still nowhere near enough. But to see Kamala, who is Indian and Jamaican, South Asian and Caribbean, I saw myself. I saw a woman who looked like me in a position of power, a position that has never been held by any woman in history. To think, the first woman to hold this position is a woman of colour, it’s huge for all of us.
I also think of her journey to the position she’s in. All women of colour understand what it’s like to face obstacles in the workplace both for our gender and our heritage. Whether it’s being in male dominated spaces, spaces dominated by white people or being worried your first name, last name or both might prevent you from getting a call back. Being in politics, Kamala would’ve likely been in spaces most of her career that are dominated by white males from established family’s. You can imagine people must have looked down on her or overlooked her for being a woman of colour. I also think of the time period she has built her career in. Over the past ten years, people have begun to stress diversity and representation in the workplace, but prior to this new found “wokeness” there wasn’t a push for it in the 90s and early 2000s. As well, being the daughter of immigrants as many of us are, she had no advantages in her industry based on family name and wealth. Whether you like her or not, I think her hustle is admirable. She worked her way up on her own merit and that’s never easy.
To Kamala, my final words are congratulations Madam Vice President. You have ignited a flame that has been wanting to burn for so many decades and it is one that is powerful to all the Black and Brown women watching you.