Growing up, I searched for examples of what it meant to be a black woman. There were no other black members of my church. There were no black teachers in my schools. There were no other black people in my neighborhood. It was shocking when we saw another black person at the mall in Eau Claire, and just walking past someone didn’t make them a role model. I mainly wondered why they were there. I was hungry for someone to help me understand who I was in the world and to help me understand what I could be.
The place that I remember finding black women role models was on MTV (I’m a child of the 1980’s). Sadly, I took in and believed the stereotypes of black women that over sexualized our identity. Instead of turning to Maya Angelou or to Angela Davis to learn about the wisdom and strength of Black women, I turned to pop culture that sent the message that my worth was is only in what my body could give to others. Instead of questioning the messages I was being sent, I believed them. Instead of seeking out other voices or other ways to view the world, I trusted that those creating the images I took in were telling me the truth.
In this day and age of everyone in our family having their own I-device, we don’t watch much television together. I know my kids watch a lot of You Tube and TikTok. The oldest has devoured Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds. The youngest has taken in all of Friends (twice) and The Good Place. Schitt’s Creek has been my security blanket in the last month or so. I needed a story of transformation and love to make it through this election season. I don’t insist on us having shared television experiences, but I did tonight (November 7, 2020). It was important for us to watch Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and President-elect Joe Biden. It was important to me that my daughters see they have a role model in the second highest office in our nation.
I do understand that I’m raising my daughter’s in a different day and age. There are more black women role models in American culture for them to look up to and they have amazing black women in my husband’s family they can get to know. However, there is only one other black person in the church we attend. There are no other black people in our neighborhood. They haven’t yet had a black teacher at school. I know it was challenging for me growing up not having Black female role models and not knowing where to find them. It was important for me to insist on sharing this historic moment with them and to watch Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, address the nation. It was important for them to hear her story. It was important for them to hear her speak about the past 100 years of women voting. It was important for them to hear the importance of the role of Black women in the history of our nation and in this election. I want my daughters to know that it is the gift of their mind, their creativity, their compassion, that matters the most. It was important for them, and honestly, it was important for my soul and my spirit. Tears of joy ran down my face.
Thank you Madam Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. You are a role model for my daughters, for me and for so many others.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” _ – Kamala Harris, Vice-President-elect, United States of America