Although you are only four years old, today marks one of the most important days in your life. It’s not your birthday. It’s not Christmas. But today marks a very big moment for you and millions of girls just like you across our country.
These words won’t mean much to you until you are a bit older, but the importance of today’s news will ring through history and very well may change the course of your own life as a woman of color.
It’s impossible for you to imagine this now, but, as of today, your life — and what you choose to do with it — will never be the same. You see, America just elected not only the first woman vice president in our country’s 244-year history, but the first woman of color. California Sen. Kamala Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, has just been chosen by well over 70 million Americans to serve as the next vice president of our country. Her election has shattered a glass ceiling that has eluded women who have aspired to the highest offices in the land before. That she has done this as a Black and Indian woman is not only unprecedented but also signals a watershed moment in American history.
As you grow older, you will learn, if not first-hand, then certainly from teachings in school, that our nation is special but far from perfect. You will see that although slavery was abolished well over 150 years ago, so many forms of racism are still very much alive. You will learn that although women fought for and eventually won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment
in 1920, their role as elected public servants still trails that of their male counterparts on all levels; for women of color, this underrepresentation is even more stark. But you will also learn that, today, a new milestone in our history as a people was achieved. Today, Harris proved that women, and in particular women of color, need not temper their aspirations.
Today, millions of young girls like you across this great land will go to bed knowing that this country has a place for you, no matter where you want to go in life. Come next January, a Black woman, just like you, will be next in line to the most powerful position on earth.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t achieve something because you are a woman or because you are Black or mixed. You can always point to Harris. She followed her dreams and, in doing so, has inspired little girls just like you to do the same, to know for sure that no dream will be too big, no aspiration too daunting.
I am your dad, and I love you and your siblings more than anything in this world, but I also worry about you, my only Black daughter. As a White man living in this country, I will never endure what so many people of color still encounter on a daily basis, nor do I completely understand the unlevel playing field that women of all backgrounds regularly confront in the workforce. But, as your father, today is a big day for me as well. Tonight, I will sleep just a bit easier, knowing that this country has a place for girls who look like you.
Please don’t misconstrue that this big news will mean that your life will always be a walk in the park. The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 was massively significant, but it didn’t end racism. In fact, it probably brought it closer to the surface
. That nearly half the country just voted for an incumbent president who has on multiple occasions refused to condemn White supremacists and right-wing extremists
and routinely calls women who go against him “nasty
,” shows that we, as a society, still have a long way to go.
Harris’ election won’t wipe out our country’s history of misogyny and sexism in the workplace. That a woman of color will soon be first in line to the presidency won’t mean that people won’t put up obstacles in front of you based on your sex or race as you go through life. But Harris broke new ground today. She has broadened the parameters through which all Americans will be forced to view the world, who has a place in it and who deserves a voice.
No matter what kind of career you choose to pursue, Gabriella, today’s news will positively impact your life in so many ways that not even I can yet fully comprehend. Today marks a new chapter for you and little girls just like you.
I can’t wait to see you pursue your dreams, Gabriella, just as Harris pursued hers.
Anything is possible.
I love you very much,