Regardless of your political views, witnessing Kamala Harris run for V.P. of the United States is a win for so many.
Dear Baby Girl,
As a four-year-old, you likely won’t remember this moment, but we are watching history unfold. For only the third time in our nation’s history, a woman is in the running for Vice President of the U.S. To make this moment even more historical, she is a woman of color. Let me be clear – this isn’t about politics. It’s about a woman getting a seat at the table. Women around the country should feel all the feels as should the black community. Whether she wins or not, this is progress. Kamala Harris is making history.
You might be wondering why a woman hasn’t been nominated for President or why only three women have been running mates. When you say the Pledge of Allegiance every day, you end with “liberty and justice for all.” It sounds great, right? When the pledge was written, liberty and justice were really only for white men.
Here’s a little history lesson: 100 years ago, women were given the right to vote. It was made possible by some amazing women who courageously paved the way for us. Unfortunately, not all women were able to vote. Barriers were put in place to block black people from voting, such as unfair literacy tests and poll taxes. Because of those obstacles, many black people weren’t able to vote until the 1960s. For reference, that’s when Mimi and Papa were kids. This isn’t just about race, it’s also about gender. There was a time that women didn’t work, and when they did enter the workforce, they earned far less money than the men. At the time, women were not as educated as men. But let me tell you something – this is STILL happening. Women are more educated these days, making up the majority of college-educated adults, yet we don’t make as much money as men. Imagine this – you and your brother do the same chore, and, when you come to collect your pay, I give him a dollar and only give you 82 cents. Seem fair? Absolutely not. If you were a black girl, you’d make even less. The whole situation makes mommy want to say one of those yucky words that you aren’t allowed to speak.
Men take up a majority of the leadership positions in companies and government. A woman has NEVER held the highest ranks of President or Vice President, and here’s why, in my opinion. Men and women have stereotypical qualities based on gender, leading to expectations of how they should act, and in fact, there is a whole theory about this very topic. “Act like a lady” or “boys will be boys” are prime examples. These sayings suggest girls should be well-mannered, while boys can be wild or aggressive, and it’s ok. When females exhibit qualities associated with the other gender, they are usually met with a negative reaction. It’s a vicious cycle. We’re conditioned to exert certain qualities, and if faced with a negative response for contradicting our stereotype, why would we ever want to try again to speak up? We don’t, so we stay quiet.
As we enter this election season, you’ll hear some interesting comments said about Kamala. Unfortunately, not all will be about her political stance. Some will talk about what she is wearing, while not commenting on the men’s attire. Some will talk about her race or how she is too assertive. There is absolutely gender bias, but women are just as capable of holding these incredibly essential positions.
Women make up 51 percent of our population, yet we have a small number of women in political leadership roles. Whether Kamala becomes VP or not, she is a role model, and we need more of these for girls like you. We need to normalize women in leadership. As you grow, I encourage you to speak up. Change can happen as evidence of our nation’s history. I believe you can make change happen, sweet girl, and see the leadership potential in you. When you’re able to vote in 14 years, I hope a woman is on the ballot and, I can’t wait to watch more history unfold with you.