Minority Women in Politics Paving a New Path for Young Girls

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Minority Women in Politics Paving a New Path for Young Girls

Kenwood SGA leaders in Washington, DC for the National Leadership Conference.

Kenwood SGA leaders in Washington, DC for the National Leadership Conference.

Lacey Forman

Kenwood SGA leaders in Washington, DC for the National Leadership Conference.

Lacey Forman

Lacey Forman

Kenwood SGA leaders in Washington, DC for the National Leadership Conference.

Linda Neewary, Sophomore

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The United States is becoming more diverse each day, and this generation is showing more tolerance for people who are different from them by putting aside how one another look and accepting them for who they are character wise. Though we may be a diverse nation, when it comes to the government, it’s not so diverse, but we are possibly moving in the right direction.

With the 2018 Elections, a record number of women were elected to Congress with four of them becoming well known as “the squad” (Desilver, 2018). So, when the President of the United States took it upon himself to attack the minority women of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) of New York, from a Hispanic background; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, from a Somalian background; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, an African American; and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a Muslim from Palestinian immigrant parents in Congress it highlighted the struggle that still exists for minority women to rise up in our political system.  In July 2019 it broke national headlines when Trump told these women “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” (Cummings, 2019). This comment is not only racist but shows this country that is okay to discriminate against people simply based on their skin color and religion.

All of these women are under the age of 50 and have become a force to be reckoned with in our changing political landscape.  These women are part of the record number of women serving in the 116th Congress, although it’s the biggest jump in women Congressional members since the 1990s they only make up 25% of the House and the Senate with men making up the other 75% (Desilver, 2018). This disparity means it is hard to hold a professional job such as being in Congress as a minority woman so for these women to rise up it’s paving a path of opportunity for other minority women. “I feel like it’s a win for us; it gives us a voice that we may not have always had because when you have a diversity of female or even males it gives you a different perspective and you can come out with a different outcome” Kenwood AP Ms. Beaty proudly shared.

“When it comes to politics everything is set and stern” shares Kenwood’s administrative assistant, Ms. McMillan. So, for these women to bring diversity to leadership that was once lacking diversity is opening new doors for not just minority women but for all people of varied backgrounds.

For many people, especially people of color, diversity is important when it comes to people governing their lives. Having strong minority female leadership also gives hope for the future. The minority women of AOC, Omar, Pressley, Tlaib are not only in position of power, but their voices have been loud and clear on issues like the border funding bill (Cummings, 2019) and are a leadership example for other young ladies who are scared to speak up about issues that concern them.

Based on the fact that “we barely see minority women in politics,” Ms. McMillan says, “it shows that these women are trying to break into the system and show our younger generation that it is okay to try something new and put our opinions out there because our opinions do matter.” Similarly Kenwood teacher Ms. Williams adds, “I think that they’re stepping us in the right the right direction, as it gives girls the examples of all the positive things that women can do.”

We live in a society where social media platforms define how young girls should look and act, so for these women to set a different look for young girls to know that they do not have to be what the world they live in makes them up to be, is empowering to young girls and minorities. We as women are gaining voice in the world and can’t let ourselves be brought down by hateful words slurred from those who reject this rise in power.  “There’s power in numbers. Once the number of women following into that direction of leadership increases, we would be in the movement of gaining more equal power,” Ms. Williams states.

The visuality of these women in politics gives us hope of our voices mattering and they are opening the door for others. “People seeing minority women get far, and people helping and voting for us to get far, it makes me more noticeable as an African American woman,” Ms. Williams shared. These women are paving the path for others to follow.

Young girls right here at Kenwood are preparing to step into roles of leadership.  “It makes me very proud. You’re letting your voice be heard and asking questions, and I’m hoping you guys continue to let your voices be heard outside of Kenwood,” Ms. McMillian says.

At Kenwood, students are showing examples of leadership. Several SGA young women just attended the National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC where student governments from various states met to discuss policies and strategies to create better school climates. Naomi Njau finds her experience with our own student government empowering, “Ms. Forman pushes us to put ourselves out there and female advisors are a great role model to inspire us to be leaders ourselves.”

Both she and fellow attendee Nayana Smith find the role of women in our national government hopeful for women’s leadership goals. “They show us it’s possible to aspire to a role in government leadership but it’ll probably still be hard because there’s still progress to be made but the possibilities are becoming more likely.”

BCPS just hosted a Leadership Summit for Young Women in which 11th grader Laila Lucas attended. She found it beneficial in not only regards to leadership but character,  “They share this iceberg analogy of how people can only see your success and not what made you what you became so it’s important as we search for success whether in leadership or not to focus on the outcome and not the things that could hold us back.”

Young girls are also getting more involved in community matters. For example, “Students are creating new clubs that are locally impacting our community like SGA and the Environmental Club” Kenwood Guidance counselor, Mr. Grubka shares. “I hope they will use their ideas to make a broader impact.” Just this year Kenwood AP student Ashby Gambrah was the leader behind starting the county wide pilot for the new  composting program.

“You are our future,” Ms. Beaty claims of our rising youth leaders. Our generation is quite different than those before us as we have more tolerance for each other and are more open to new experience. “Your generation is okay with being different,” Ms. Williams shares.

It is with high hope that we can have a more diverse government in the future because we as a generation are more diverse and different in many ways. We are an open minded generation and we are okay with voicing our opinion and it is imperative we continue for the changes we seek in our future.

 

 

Sources:

Desilver, Drew. “A Record Number of Women will be Serving in the New Congress.” Pew Research Center. 18 December 2018. Web. 9 January 2020. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/18/record-number-women-in-congress/

 

Cummings, William. “The Squad: These are the four Congresswomen Trump told to “go back” to other Countries”. USA Today. Gannett Satellite Network, LLC. 15 July 2019. Web. 9 Jan 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/07/15/who-is-the-squad-ocasio-cortez-omar-pressley-and-tlaib-make-mark/1732238001/