I have been hoping to write this very blog post since I started brainstorming this upcoming calendar, and I am over-the-moon, dance-the-night-away, popping champagne, sobbing my eyes out excited to ACTUALLY GET TO DO THIS.
In reality, I have wanted an occasion to be this excited about a Vice President since I was aware we even had Presidents and Vice Presidents. As children, we look around the world and we obtain information based on what we can see. Some of us are lucky enough to have parents, guardians, other family members, role models, etc. that allow us to take those observations and make sense of them further, to have conversations of dreams and realities that aren't so obviously observed, and, taking it even one step further, do everything they possibly can to help us achieve those dreams.
BUT it's also true that if you try to walk through a door over and over again, but never get through, you're eventually going to start thinking a few different things:
"I must not have the key to this door."
"The door is broken."
"Maybe this is actually just a wall."
We eventually may learn how to find a new way to get to the unknowns behind the door. For some, the door is forgotten entirely, or, in some cases, it becomes a distant memory of something that was simply made for someone else. (And don't even get me started on the contractor who built the damn door in the first place.)
As little girls, the presidency and vice presidency has been that door. A job that for years, and years, and years has felt possible but not yet obtainable. My heart cries with joy for the little girls, and especially Black and brown girls, who saw that door open for them for the first time yesterday (11/7/20). A coalition of activists, organizers, freedom fighters, and believers didn't forget that door - they've been hammering, sawing, bulldozing, and yanking at it for years, and THEY KNOCKED THE DAMN THING DOWN. They broke its hinges, and it's never going back up. What a beautiful thing.
Introducing the third of twelve pages dedicated to notable female leaders of our time, the first female, Black, AND South Asian American Vice President of the United States of America: Kamala Harris.
As I wrote my first draft of my final 2021 Badass Ladies list, the decision of who would run as the Vice Presidential Democratic nominee was not yet made, but it had been announced that it would be a woman. I wrote "Vice President" in the slot.
Some of you may be thinking "wait, why would someone get an automatic spot on the calendar before you even knew who it was going to be?!" Let me explain. Having spent this election cycle getting to know the political sphere more than I ever have in the past, I knew that this woman, whomever she was, was going to take on this role and work her butt off to better this world for the people living in it. That she would fight to protect the rights of people regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, country of origin, religion, and level of ability, and that she would prioritize health and science in the face of this never-ending pandemic and climate crisis. And that, in addition to all of the above, HERstory would be made.
Soon her story will reach every corner of the country, and it should. Vice President Harris’s rise is nothing short of meteoric. The daughter of a Tamil Indian mother and Jamaican father, both of whom immigrated to the United States as adults, Kamala was the first in her family born in the United States and now will become the highest-ranking female elected official in American history. Along the way, she has broken barriers and reset expectations at each stop of her illustrious career as a public servant.
Many of us first came to know Kamala through her multiple, life-giving performances in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the Trump administration in 2018. Her skills as a prosecutor (and, generally, a person not be trifled with) made her a mainstream star as she continuously made grown adults look like they were about to start weeping under her intense and no-nonsense line of questioning. Her ability to consistently meet the moment with cool confidence and clear talent is a superpower that she’s gained through years of battles, both professional and personal.
Among many achievements in her career, Kamala has been the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to be elected as the District Attorney of San Francisco and the Attorney General of California. When she became the Junior Senator of California in 2016, she became just the second Black woman to ever join the Senate. In each of these roles and the positions she held prior, the soon-to-be Vice President has been a champion for the rights of children, the LGBTQIA+ community, the environment, and womxn.
As with all public figures who attain hero status, I believe it is important to recognize all aspects and realities of their record. Often, it's easier to overlook a less flattering portion of a person’s legacy for one’s own narrative than to fully recognize that even our best leaders are humans capable of mistakes and that, because of their power, those misses and errors can have tremendous consequences. To her credit, Kamala has acknowledged her successes as a prosecutor while not hiding that her decisions have not always brought about healing or created better outcomes in the ways she had hoped. Those familiar with her work in the criminal justice system have been clear that her tenure as an Attorney General is certainly not without actions that should be judged by the evolving standards we hold for public officials in that field AND that she has the capacity to be a game-changer in terms of establishing police, prison, and justice reform due to her extensive experience.
To say that we are lucky and overdue to have a woman in the White House, is a ludicrous understatement that also ignores the tremendous efforts it has taken to finally create this moment and the many, many women who could have occupied that position (and the one above it) from the very beginning of time. Watching Vice President Harris on stage, fully aware of the opportunity she has to show an entire generation of girls and women the potential of their own power, is… magical. It is a truly challenging task to condense the history-making power of this woman into one blog post… and that’s before she starts her new job!
My favorite quote: "I may be the first woman to hold this office, but I won't be the last."
It was an absolute honor painting this portrait. I hope you are celebrating today, but ready to organize efforts and fight for continued change tomorrow.