Forty-eight years ago, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm declared her campaign to run for President of the United States.
In announcing her bid, Chisholm said, “I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.”
These words still ring true today, for so many progressive Black women candidates, like me, who know that our experience brings fresh perspective and nuance to political office.
We have the responsibility of not only representing the interests of our race by demanding an end to racial disparities in healthcare, education, policing, and housing, but also our gender, by demanding equal pay for equal work and an end to maternal mortality. It is our beloved burden to seek equity and justice when it is not present, on behalf of working class mothers with no healthcare, children concerned about the rising costs of college and partners coping with mental health issues.
We are a new, bold, uncompromising face of politics in the state of Florida, understanding that to do the most good for the most people, we must prioritize “the least of these.”
My Caribbean immigrant parents raised myself and my siblings in the church. And even though I don’t attend church now as much as I did when I was a child, one verse always comes to mind and should transcend all religious affiliations. Matthew 25: 40-45 gives a clear call to service: “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
The health of our political system should be based on the ways we take care of our most vulnerable. And that can’t be accomplished with authenticity if we don’t have meaningful diversity at decision making tables IN POSITIONS OF LEADERSHIP.
Like Congresswoman Chisholm said, we are here to be of the people: young people, undocumented people, queer people, people without formal education, homeless people, all people. This is our charge towards a healthy state where families are affirmed and given ample opportunities to thrive without significant intrusion.
So, when you take an inventory of your life and your relationships, how are you making space for other people to shine and be their best selves? How have you advocated on someone else’s behalf? Is your call to politics rooted in community? What could this world look like if all of us reached outside of ourselves to find and create ways to bring others into power? Let’s start right now… talk to the people around you, register to vote, support progressive candidates with your time or resources, and show up to vote on election day.
Election day is August 18, 2020, make sure you request your vote-by-mail ballot from your local Supervisor of Elections!
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