Black women and queer candidates reign supreme over Republicans to take back the House.
Democrats around the country watched with bated breath as they awaited the results of their local elections. While threats of voter suppression loomed, tensions were high. However, Dems can celebrate the day with monumental gains in racial and gender diversity.
Lauren Underwood is the youngest black women to run for Congress in 2018. A registered nurse in Illinois, she will represent the 14th Congressional district. Jahana Hayes, a former state and national teacher of the year, has emerged victorious in her race against GOP candidate Manny Santos to take the seat in Connecticut. Ayanna Pressley will represent Massachusetts as the first black congresswoman.
“This was the first election ever where white men were not a majority of the Democratic candidates for the House and white men were still 3/4 of the Republican candidates.” Ronald Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst
First Native American Women
Additions to the House include, for the first time ever, two Native American women. Sharice Davids, of the Ho-Chunk Nation, won in Kansas to replace a GOP representative. A former MMA fighter, Davids makes history as Kansas’ first openly gay rep. Deb Haaland, the former chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, will occupy the seat Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham vacated to run for governor.
First Muslim Women
Michigan is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States. As a Detroit native, I could not be prouder to announce that Rashida Tlaib will be representing the state. Even better, is that she will be occupying the seat left by Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who vacated after sexual misconduct allegations.
Kate Brown is the first bisexual and openly queer person to be elected governor. She will represent Oregon and joining her is Jared Polis. Polis is now the first openly gay member of Congress and he represents Colorado.
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are the first Hispanic women to make it to Congress from Texas. South Dakota has elected Kristi Noem as the states first female governor. While not yet declared, Arizona looks to appoint Krysten Sinema however, she is in a tight race with GOP Rep. Martha McSally.
Overall, women now hold over 100 positions in the House of Representatives. The future is female!
Beto O’Rourke Admits Ancestors Owned Slaves, Talks Reparations
Sunday, Beto O’ Rourke shared the discovery of he and his wife’s descendants from slave owners. Acknowledging their benefit from institutionalized chattel slavery, the Presidential hopeful owned his painful legacy while outlining several policies, which include reparations.
“We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine.”Beto O’Rourke
In a post written for Medium, O’Rourke stated he was provided with documents showing his paternal and maternal great-great-great grandfather’s owned, slaves. Rose and Eliza, whose names were found listed in a property log, were enslaved by O’Rourke’s paternal ancestor, Andrew Cowan Jasper. But the discovery would uncover that not only did he descend from slave owners, but his wife also had as well. Discussing their personal connection to the legacy of slavery in the US, O’Rourke lamented what Rose, Eliza, and other enslaved Africans endured, were denied, and what repercussions their ancestors suffered.
“I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others. That only increases the urgency I feel to help change this country so that it works for those who have been locked-out of or — locked-up in — this system.”Beto O’Rourke
You cannot navigate life in the America of today without first acknowledging its racist foundations. From the moment the first nineteen enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, the institution of slavery threaded them through a needle of cruelty and stitched them into the fabric of American society. Generations of Africans were denied their freedom, civil rights, and ability to amass wealth through a practice that forced them to push their White counterparts ahead. This advantage, hesitantly understood by O’Rourke, benefits him, his spouse, and his children while continuing to suppress the growth of Black families to this day. Still, Beto admits the wrongs of his ancestors while contemplating how he, as President, could enact policies to tip the scales.
“I will do everything I can”
Touching on the wealth disparity, Beto discussed the imbalanced incarceration rate and infant mortality rates between Black and White Americans. Seeing the nation as two Americas to be bridged, O’Rourke wants to rectify the economic, educational, criminal justice, and even technological biases that pervade our nation. Detailing his plan, Beto began with educational changes, providing $23 billion immediately to address underfunding in minority-majority public schools. With attention to economic biases, he plans to ensure equal pay and dispense capital to minority and women-owned businesses. With criminal justice being at the forefront of the conversation for many candidates and prospective voters, O’Rourke moves to end the drug war and expunging arrest records for nonviolent drug crimes. However, his stance on reparations, while he does support it, rests on Americans understanding of the country’s history before pursuing cash payouts.
The overall reception of Beto O’Rourke’s admission has been positive as he is being lauded for confronting his problematic legacy head-on. However, he is still being accused of performative activism. Detractors are labeling his recent discovery as a pandering attempt to garner votes from Black constituents.
Do you think this is a step in the right direction for Beto? Would you like to see this sort of genealogical research become a requirement for Presidential candidates?
Federal Watchdog Agency Claims Kellyanne Conway Violated Hatch Act
It has been recommended that Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal office for a violation of the Hatch Act. Defined as engaging in political activity in the course of one’s work, Conway’s continuous tv appearances and social media presence have gotten her called out by a federal watchdog organization.
The Office of Special Counsel made the recommendation that Kellyanne Conway be immediately removed from her position as the senior-most advisor to Donald Trump Thursday. In a lengthy report provided to Trump, the investigation described Conway as a repeat offender, violating the Hatch Act on numerous occasions. Through disparaging remarks to Democratic presidential candidates, to speaking in her official capacity in television appearance and on social media, Conway has crossed several boundaries. The implications that her actions violate the Hatch Act have been deemed “unprecedented.”
Special Counsel Henry Kerner noted that his suggestion to fire Conway was unheard of. However, the basis for his decision rests on the example set by Conway’s behavior. Discussing the recommendation in an interview, Kerner said, “In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed. What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?” While many have called for Conway’s termination of employment since she assumed the role as his advisor in 2017, the decision rests solely upon Donald Trump.
In predictable fashion, the White House is refusing to accept the Special Counsel’s recommendation. Instead, they have issued a letter calling for the federal watchdog agency to withdraw the suggestion of Conway’s removal. However, the Office of Special Counsel immediately declined. They are choosing not to overlook Conway’s unethical behavior but cannot force the President to take action in their favor.
Taraji Saving Black Lives
Taraji P. Henson has been a leader in our community by shedding light on the reality of mental health for black youth. On June 7th, 2019, Henson testified on Capitol Hill during the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce forum on suicide among black youth. Specifically, Henson brought the room into deep thought when she reflected on her own experiences.
Henson’s father Boris Lawrence Henson passed away in 2006. Prior to that, Henson’s son’s father was murdered in Washington D.C. Now, these two traumatic events have affected her but it has also fostered a wealth of issues for her son. As a result, things get worse when young people are not able to vocalize their hurt and pain.
In her statement, Henson stated, “We’ve been taught to pray our problems away.” Henson is making it known that in the African-American community we do not discuss mental health. Instead, we let our emotions build up. If the problem is not addressed it will always be there. There will be strings attached if one doesn’t confront what is holding them back from prospering in life.
Lastly, a few years ago, Henson launched the Boris Lawrence Henson foundation with a goal to eliminate any stigmas associated with mental health. Mental health should be normalized and it should be taught in schools just like Henson stated in her statement.
I recommend everyone to watch her statement.
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