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it’s okay to feel proud about kamala harris

January 24, 2019
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I still remember the first time I saw a Black woman get very successful in political media. It was Gwen Ifill and I would watch her talk to important people on PBS and wonder if one day I could have a job like that, too. Later, I would learn how Black women have been raising their voices in politics forever, from Fannie Lou Hamer to Barbara Lee. While our contributions have not always been visible, respected or supported, we’ve always been there.

After a few cycles of people shouting “Listen to Black Women!” or advocating for more Black women in public office, it seems folks are starting to take that call seriously. In the 2018 midterms, five Black women made their way to the House, and the Congressional Black Caucus will have more members than it ever has.

When Kamala Harris announced she was running for president last week, she did so by evoking the campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress who would eventually become the first Black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President. I watched her announcement feeling like I did watching Gwen Ifill talk about politics so many years ago.

Many have already written about the legitimate issues surrounding Harris’ political past. We’re right to ask difficult questions of candidates who are seeking to represent us. The idea of “faves” needs to be put to rest, because it keeps us from asking the real questions and doing the real work when we’re dazzled by the idea of a candidate or what they represent.  But we can still hold our elected leaders accountable while also being proud of them — and it’s okay to be proud to see another Black woman picking up Chisholm’s baton.

As Black women, we’re among the most overlooked citizens of America’s population. Our issues aren’t taken seriously. People shout about “supporting Black women” and “listening to Black women,” but such platitudes rarely come with meaningful support, leadership or funding. Our labor and votes are expected to “save” the country from itself. We are expected to be superwomen, literally working ourselves into early graves without complaining about it. So it’s okay to feel good about seeing a Black woman run for president and enjoy overwhelming early financial backing.

Always be critical, but it’s okay to feel proud about a Black woman’s accomplishment and feel hopeful about what it means for the rest of the country as well.