According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Black women represent 7.8% of the population. Yet a Center for American Women in Politics study shows less than 5% of officeholders elected to statewide executive offices, Congress, and state legislatures are Black women.
While Kamala Harris became the first Black woman vice president, the fact is just 17 Black women have ever held statewide elected executive offices, and no Black woman has ever been elected governor.
For years, Black women have had a powerful impact on the American political system, especially in the Democratic party. There is no question that President Biden sits in the oval office today because of what Black women voters did for him in the South Carolina Democratic Primary and what Black women voters did for him on November 3, 2020.
To President Biden’s credit, he has been showing his appreciation to Black women by selecting three Black women to serve in his Cabinet. Former U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge serves as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Cecilia Rouse serves as the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield serves as U.N. Ambassador.
Shalanda Young, who was confirmed as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, is serving concurrently as the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Last week, Sandra L. Thompson was confirmed as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
This represents the largest number of Black women serving concurrently in any presidential cabinet.
The faces in the hallowed halls of Congress are slowly changing, and many of them are Black women.
Black women are 4.5% of all members of Congress, 9% of all Democrats in Congress, 16.8% of all women in Congress, and 39.3% of Black members of Congress.
They are 5.5% of all members of the House, 20.2% of all women in the House, 41.4% of Black members of the House, and 10.9% of Democrats in the House. No Black women currently serve in the U.S. Senate.
When Black women run for these offices, it is imperative that we support them with our time, money, and votes. We no longer can just sit on the sidelines and complain about what is wrong with our neighborhood, city, state, and country. The upcoming crucial 2022 elections present the perfect opportunity for us to get into the game and make a difference.
The city of Los Angeles has a Black woman, Karen Bass, running for mayor, and if she wins, she will be the city’s first female mayor and the second Black mayor. St. Louis elected its first Black woman mayor in April 2021.
If Bass is victorious, she will join eight other Black women as mayors of major American cities. I am excited that this is truly the time in history for Black women to take their well-earned and deserved place in American politics.
For generations, Black women have been at the heart of the family and community and are reaching heights that previous generations could not have imagined. Let’s never forget the suffering and sacrifices of those who came before us that through their blood and tears, we have the right to vote.
Wendy Gladney is an author and columnist for the L.A. Sentinel.