ASHLAND -- Women of color in the Ashland area were asked what they thought about Kamala Harris being elected to the office of vice-president of the United States.
Their responses can be summarized in this statement by AU student Hannah Witteman, “This means SO much to me!”
The themes of their joyful and hopeful responses gather into these categories: being happy and hopeful for future generations of girls and their aspirations, feeling their own dreams and hopes enlarged, finally feeling connected to the promise of America, and seeing America’s principles being carried out.
AU nursing student Yosolajesu Olujide-Ajibade became an American citizen when she was in the fifth grade. Harris’ election has made her feel hopeful for generations to come.
“America still has a lot of work to be done in terms of inclusivity," she said. "I feel this was a big step toward change.”
Deedra McDonnell, a city resident, commented, “I have a new-found measure of hope in humanity. It's beautiful and slightly overwhelming to realize that all things are possible, not only for persons of color but for women, who are also still largely looked upon as second-class citizens, even in our country.”
Tyayia Young, an AU student majoring in English, creative writing, and psychology, sees Harris’ election to high office as a hopeful sign for future generations of girls. She said she had ambitions to become the US president up until high school, where she encountered the reality of women’s roles in civic life.
She concluded that women “are only acknowledged as ‘supporters’ of certain candidates and laws; way too often they are not taken seriously when they try to move up in the political realm.”
She hopes today a young black woman who wants to be President will hold onto that ambition instead of giving it up as she did.
Nayomi Munaweera, AU professor of fiction in the MFA program, explained, “As a woman of color myself, specifically South Asian, I cannot express what it means to have someone who looks like me and has had similar life experiences to me in this position.
"For possibly the first time since arriving in this country at the age of 12 in 1984, I feel deeply proud to be American. The promises this country makes that all have equal opportunity suddenly seem real and true.”
Dana Brunot, an AU student majoring in psychology, commented also about diversity in terms of both gender and race.
She wrote, “White men have always been in charge for presidential roles as well as other forms of power. I am glad to finally see not only a woman as vice president, but also a woman of color representing the diversity of our citizens and country.”
Melan White is an AU student majoring in creative writing and math.
She said, “During the election season, I was thinking a lot about what Malcolm X said about the black woman being the most disrespected person in the nation. So now there will be a black woman in one of the highest positions in our nation. Will black women be more respected overnight? No. But I truly believe things will start to shift. The narrative is going to start to change and Kamala Harris will have been the start to that shift.”
These local women were contacted by ColorfulAshland for their views on the election and inauguration of Kamala Harris. ColorfulAshland is an independent community group in Ashland, open to all people of good will who support the organization’s mission and vision.
ColorfulAshland’s mission is “to understand and share the way race impacts life in Ashland County in the areas of education, religion, criminal justice, health, mental health, housing, employment, and business and to advocate for liberty and justice for all.” Its vision is “for a vibrant community that is welcoming, diverse, ready to adapt to meet the needs of all its members, and that celebrates the lives and contributions of all Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Ashland.”
ColorfulAshland is currently conducting a fundraising drive to purchase books to increase the Ashland Public Library’s offerings by authors representing diverse populations and cultures. Contributions can be made by check and sent to the Ashland Public Library, 224 Claremont Ave., Ashland, OH 44805.
Checks should be made out to Ashland Public Library with “ColorfulAshland Books” written on the memo line. The deadline for contributions is Jan. 31.