#BlackGirlMagic in Politics
In our current political atmosphere fraught with devastating losses for us women of color, we often don’t take time to celebrate our victories. There were at least three big ones this week:
This week, a little more #BlackGirlMagic came to our very own North Carolina in the form of the election of Vi Lyles. The Democrat is the first African-American woman to be elected as mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte. Lyles grew up in the segregated South and has faced injustice for her entire life. Rather than fleeing to the North, or quietly accepting the status quo, she instead dedicated her entire life to improving life for all citizens of Charlotte. In a press conference after her historic victory, the mayor-elect said of her legacy:
“I believe that people understand that when I look at you, I see a person. I’m trying to connect what government can do with you as an individual.”
Triple threat Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender black woman to be elected to a U.S. public office. The LGBTQ+ community has faced tremendous opposition from the government under the Trump administration, which makes this triumph especially satisfying. Jenkins’ won the right to represent Minneapolis's 8th Ward on the City Council with 70% of the vote on Tuesday. She is an activist, performance artist, poet, historian, and writer. In a public statement post-election, Jenkins affirmed:
“As an out African-American trans-identified woman, I know first-hand the feeling of being marginalized, left out, thrown under the bus. Those days are over. We don’t just want a seat at the table — we want to set the table."
Last but not least, Sheila Oliver became the first black woman to be Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey, making her the second highest-ranking official in the state. With a heavy background in politics and leadership, this is not the first historical milestone that Oliver has achieved. Although a registered Democrat, she has uniquely worked with and received praise from both parties, making her a welcome anomaly in such a polarized time in politics. During her victory speech, Oliver said:
“This may not have been the first glass ceiling I have broken, but it is certainly the highest. I hope somewhere in this great state of New Jersey a young girl of color is watching tonight and realizing she does not have a limit to how high she can go.”
Black women are running for public office in unprecedented numbers, and, more importantly, winning. Marie Wilson once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Well, we young women of color saw a little more of what we can be this week.