The results of this week’s elections were full of “firsts”. But there have been a lot of reactions asking “why do these elections have to be about race/gender/religion?” Elections don’t exist in vacuums; the idea that they do is absurd. Race, gender, and religion matter in elections because our country is a place full of people of diverse races, genders, and religions.
So it matters a great deal that the first female, African American mayor was elected in North Carolina’s largest city. Because until 152 years ago slavery was practiced in our country and African Americans were property. Because until 97 years ago women could not vote in our country. Because until 53 years ago it was legal to discriminate against others based on race, religion, and sex.
So Vi Lyle’s “first” should be celebrated, just like every other “first”. Because in 2017, people are still fighting against our nation’s past and against systemic disadvantages placed on them due to their race, gender, or religion (and many other factors). I choose to celebrate the growing diversity of our elected officials because as a group, they are slowly reflecting the beautiful diversity of American people.
I made this video as a way to express my joy and hope following Tuesday's elections. In order, it depicts: Vy Liles (first female, African American mayor of Charlotte, NC), Ravinder Bhalla (first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, NJ), Kathy Tran (first female Asian-American delegate in VA), and Danica Roem (first openly transgender delegate in VA). As I’ve said somewhere before “Because we can only rise together through seeing ourselves reflected in one another. This is how we realize that the differences that separate us can be re-framed into shared human-ness.”