“I hope every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities” – Kamala Harris
On the 7th of November 2020, history was made when Kamala Devi Harris became the first Asian-American, first African-American and first female Vice-President in the history of the United States. She is set to assume office on the 20th of January, 2021 alongside Joe Biden, the president elect.
While Kamala addressed the nation at Joe’s home city of Delaware after the announcement, she gave a special shout out to black women, calling them the “backbone of democracy” and in that moment of epiphany, black women all over the world felt something that can best be described as hope.
Kamala was right, America is a country of possibilities. Heck, the world is a land of possibilities and just like everyone else, black women should enjoy these possibilities that they have been denied for so long. Black women needed to feel hope again: the hope that they too could enjoy the possibility of existing without prejudice, to be whatever they want to be without facing a million barriers, the possibility of having a good life.
Black girls right now, look at Kamala, a woman who looks like them and think to themselves “If she can do it, so can I” and that is the power of representation.
“While I may be the first woman in this office I will not be the last”. – Kamala Harris
Black women are not the only ones represented by Kamala Harris’ ground breaking election into the White House. Kamala is the daughter of Immigrant Americans. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan is a Biologist who arrived in the United States from India in 1958 while her father, Donald J. Harris is a Stanford Professor who arrived in the United States from British Jamaica in 1961.
The current administration, under president Donald Trump, is notorious for its anti-immigration policies that have reduced immigration into the US, approved poor treatment of undocumented immigrants and prevented documented immigrants from obtaining citizenship. Now, the (soon-to-be) most important woman in the United States of America is the child of immigrants and the power that holds in unmatched.
Already, the President Elect Joe Biden has announced that his administration will repeal some of the anti-immigration laws passed by Donald Trump including the Muslim travel ban that affects countries like Nigeria and Syria. Once again, Kamala’s win is opening up a world of opportunities for a minority group (immigrants) in America
Also, it appears Kamala Harris is not a woman bound by society’s expectations of women and that is a breath of fresh air for obvious reasons. The world has been very critical of women in politics and even dares to dictate the ‘type’ of women who should be in politics. This ‘type’ largely relies, of course, on patriarchy and respectability politics. But in every sense, Kamala lives by her own rules alone. She got married to Douglas Emhoff when she was 50 years old and has no child of her own, both situations that would make the dead patriarchs turn in their graves.
The message is clear – women can live by their own rules and be whatever they want to be. The world still has a long way to go regarding female representation and gender equality but presently, we have a black woman who is the child of immigrants as the vice president of the United States of America.
Tonight, we celebrate!
Chisom Anastasia Nwaezuoke is a physiotherapist, writer, public speaker and yogi. She is also a sexual health and reproductive rights advocate and volunteers for HandsOff Initiative.