See the red box? Until then, she would have been enslaved.
See the blue box? Until then, she couldn’t vote.
See the yellow box? Until then, she had to attend a segregated school.
And the green box? Until then, she didn’t have the right to have her own bank account without a male co-signer.
Welcome Vice-President Kamala Harris
By: Evelyn Bueno
The year 2020 brought forth many harsh challenges, with a global pandemic bringing countless amounts of lives lost and the growing tensions of racial inequity all leading to a pinnacle of hopelessness. The 2020 presidential election season was no exception, as it highlighted the division even further. However, in the mist of the chaos individuals found a new appreciation for advocacy. Individuals and communities took to the streets and to social media to express the sorrow and frustration they felt due to the continued racial injustice impacting our country through unequal systems and highlighted by the ongoing pandemic. The 2020 election results were a light Americans saw at the end of a very dark tunnel and the result of millions of advocates and grassroots organizers.
In the midst of the protests and pandemic, then presidential candidate, Joe Biden announced his running mate on August 11, 2020. President Biden’s historic announcement of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate made headway and created newfound hope for all women, especially to women and girls of color. The thought of having a female in the White House often seemed far out of reach, to say this possibility shocked and inspired the world is an understatement. President Biden’s announcement gave women, especially women of color, a new hope of a more just country.
Kamala Harris was born October 20, 1964 and is the proud daughter of an Indian diplomat mother and a Jamaican father. Madame Vice President Harris started her political career after earning a B.A from Howard University and her law degree from Hastings College. In 2010, she was elected attorney general for the state of California, already a trailblazer as the first Black American to hold that position (McNamee, 2020). Among many accomplishments during her time in public services she became the first Indian American to occupy a seat in the Senate in 2017 and just the second Black woman to do so as well (McNamee, 2020).
The 2020 historic win for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris created a wave emotion for people of color and women and girls everywhere. Kamala Harris’s Vice Presidential win was a win for all women who have hoped and dreamed they would live to see this day. Their dreams and aspirations are no longer out of reach. Her win was a sign of hope and rebirth to women across the country. In her historic acceptance speech, Vice President Kamala Harris was received with endless amounts of applauses and tears. Vice president Kamala Harris paid tribute to the suffragettes’ whose advocacy and sacrifice aided her path to this victory. Vice President Harris vocalized in her speech appreciation to the many women that instilled in her the power, confidence and strength that allowed her journey to be possible by stating:
“To the women most responsible for my presence here today, Shyamala Gopalan Harris who is always in our hearts… I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latin, Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all… Black women who are often over looked but are the backbone of our democracy… BUT WHILE I MAY BE THE FIRST WOMAN IN THIS OFFICE, I WONT BE THE LAST!” (Stevens, 2021).
As we reflect on our country’s great advancement, we must remember that this is just the beginning for women and girls all over the world. This historic day marks us forever, that we are able to dream far beyond the expectation of society. It is with great honor that we introduce the world to our first ever women of color, daughter of immigrant parents, United States of America’s Vice President, Kamala Devi Harris. Vice President Harris’ new role in office will leave an ever-lasting legacy for women and girls. She has created a space for us to reach to new heights we never saw possible. It will go down in history as a critical changing point for women. Young laureate poet Amanda Gorman delivered heartfelt speech about change and overcoming in which she reminded us that “for there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it” (Alder, 2021).
We must not forget that change, and this change in particular, is a result of hundreds of years of advocacy efforts of women who fought and sacrificed for voting rights, in the men and women and who fought tirelessly in the civil rights movement. This is a reminder of the important work advocacy and community organization has on our policies. The next four years under the new administration Social Workers must remember that it is in our code of ethics to promote social justice. Social justice and advocacy are a large part of the work we do with individuals, families and communities, and it can make a long-term impact in generations of women and girls to come. It is an integral part of our professional role as we establish relationships with people in their community to discuss plans and polices that need to be implemented to address the racial, economic, environmental, and the health care crises (Joyner, 2020). Social workers can help individuals heal from past traumas and moments of crisis, together we must uphold the value of every client we serve and endlessly work to promote their right to live in an America that values and endorses their right to equality.
Alter, A. (2021, January 19). Amanda Gorman Captures the Moment, in Verse. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/19/books/amanda-gorman-inauguration-hill-we-climb.html
Joyner, M. C. (2020.). National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.socialworkers.org/News/Social-Work-Advocates/2020-December-2021-January/We-Must-Examine-Americas-Soul-to-Address-Injustices
McNamee, G. (2020). Harris, Kamala. In Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.
Stevens, M. (2021, November 08). Read Kamala Harris’s Vice President-Elect Acceptance Speech. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/article/watch-kamala-harris-speech-video-transcript.html