Tag Archives: Deb Haaland

We Always Hoped We’d See the Day: Many Women of Color Seated in the House

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Barbara Lee with some of the new Congresswomen of color in the House chambers

Laurie and Debbie say:

It’s great to be back blogging together after Laurie’s vacation, and even better when there’s something to celebrate.

Ilhan Omar at microphone in multicolored hijab
Ilhan Omar

Yesterday, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) became the first two Islamic women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Sharice Davids (D-KS) became the first two Native American women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Davids is also a retired MMA fighter. In case you’re curious, Native Americans Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin (both R-OK) are keeping their seats in this House of Representatives, as is Andr√© Carson (D-IN), who is Islamic; Keith Ellison, also Islamic, left the House this year when he won his race for Attorney General of Minnesota.

Sharice Davids at a press conference
Sharice Davids

Connecticut and Massachusetts both elected their first black Congresswomen, Jahana Hayes and Ayanna Presley, respectively. (About time for those two northern blue states!). Texas elected its first two Latina Congresswomen, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia. (About time for Texas, too, with such a large Latinx population!) Lauren Underwood (D-IL) is the youngest black woman to serve in Congress.

Lauren Underwood in front of the Capitol Building
Lauren Underwood

Of the 102 women in the new Congress, 89 are Democrats and 13 are Republicans.¬† More than 1/3 of them are women of color. Until yesterday, there were 25 Republican women in the house; the last time there were 13 or fewer Republican women was 1993-1995. Only five states have never elected a woman to the House of Representatives (and three of those have elected women senators). This is the first time there have been more than 89 women among the 435 members of the House.The gains for people of color in general are smaller; there’s a slight increase in African-American and Latinx representatives, and a stable number of Asian Americans.

The numbers tell a story. The story told in the pictures, and the smiles, and the celebrations is at least as important. The U.S. Congress doesn’t look like America — but it looks more like America than it ever has. Women of color bear no responsibility for the biggest inequities this country faces. As a group, they have been victims, not oppressors. The job of fixing our problems does not belong on their shoulders. So it’s an honor and a privilege for the rest of us to have them continuing to commit themselves to grueling work, endless criticism and far too many threats and dangers. The rest of progressive America needs to support them, help shore up their newfound power, and make sure that in two years there are even more firsts to celebrate.

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