This past weekend, history was made in The United States when Kamala Harris became the first Black woman and first Indian-American woman to hold the position of Vice President-Elect. This is a big moment for Black women. One many of us may have never imagined because we have both witnessed and experienced this world’s ongoing cruelty towards Black women.
Like many other Black parents, I have been happy that my daughter could see this moment happening and see the amazement in her eyes as she realised what is possible for women who look like her. I have seen many parents sharing images of their Black daughters staring at Kamala on TV screens, in absolute wonder – it has been beautiful.
It’s not lost on me however, that this moment is big because it isn’t the norm. In fact, it’s far from it. Our reality is knowing that Black women’s success, at that level, whether in public or private sectors, is more a case of exceptions. And that’s why these validations of Black girls’ and women’s dreams is so important. We have to believe it’s possible, and it’s a little easier to do that when we see evidence of it.
When we think about political parties, the big ones that have most of the public support, how many are led by Black women? When we think of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Fortune 500, FTSE 100, how many companies listed have Black women at the helm? When we think about institutions such as the church, how many are led by Black women?
And this is an important part of the conversation that we need to be having with our Black daughters. Kamala Harris, Serena Williams, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. These are just three examples of Black women whose successes we celebrate, but even in their successes/achievements, the fact that they are Black women will always influence how they are spoken about, how their humanity is conveyed/respected and what room they have to learn, grow, make mistakes, drive change.
We must be honest about the fact that no matter how successful, smart, educated, accomplished, impactful Black women are, the world will still demand that we always prove ourselves, prove our worth, prove that we deserve to be paid equally to our white counterparts, prove that we also experience the full range of emotions, like every other human, and that anger is not a Black woman thing. It’s a human thing. An injustice thing. An inequality thing.
The world is not suddenly rosy because of Kamala’s new role. But, Kamala moments do encourage us to keep moving, keep pushing, keep fighting.
Admittedly, our ability and impetus to fight has a lot to do with resources available to us. And oppressive systems continue to thrive for the same reason – access to resources. The fight was never fair to begin with, but that shouldn’t discourage us. We will not be able to fix everything in our lifetimes, but we must still do everything we can to equip our daughters and reduce the load they will have to bear.