Excitement, joy and slight apprehension – emotions many women around the United States felt when Hillary Clinton was just a few electoral college votes away from becoming the President of the United States in 2016. Now, with Kamala Harris running alongside Joe Biden four years later, roughly the same feelings are present among women – and in particular African American women – again, only this time increase those feelings by ten.
If Biden and Harris were to win this election, she would not only be the first woman to ever make it to the office, but more specifically, the first black, south-asian woman to do so. The glass ceiling for all women, and especially women of color would suddenly have more cracks in it than ever before.
With the excitement, however, comes the creeping feeling of fear. Not fear due to how Kamala Harris would be whilst in power, but fear for Kamala herself and how reactions to her would trickle down to other black women in the country. As with any president, the scrutiny faced every second of every day is something clearly only strong-willed people can handle. But being a black woman, the scrutiny Kamala would face would undoubtedly all-too-often come from a different place than just one which critiques her policies.
Because whichever way you break it down the racists and the sexists will have a say in everything she does for the next four years – Trump wins and the white supremacists are emboldened; Biden wins and they have the highest possible profile target in Kamala Harris. The same was apparent with Michelle Obama, constantly ridiculed by public and media, called an “ape in heels” and “gorilla” on multiple occasions – all this without actually even being in office. Although Kamala, just like the Obamas, will surely never let the ignorant words get to her, the thought that African American women everywhere will have to hear and endure those comments all over again is not an uplifting thought.
Being a black woman living in the United States comes with its hardship, as one can imagine in a society that diminishes women and does not fully accept people of color. The lack of representation for black women in all aspects of life is and has always been a stark fact. Consequently, it is difficult to understate the importance of seeing Kamala Harris in office to women across the country, and in particular young African American girls.
Perhaps this election cycle will come to serve as an event which helps lift the deep, lingering weight which has been on their chests since forever.
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