Ramapo students Achyut Gautam and Antonio Navazio gave a presentation on Monday illustrating the significance of three women of color being elected to the U.S. Senate. Despite the massive number of women and women of color in the U.S., the election of Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris and Catherine Cortez Masto brings the number of non-white women in the Senate up to four, a blatantly disproportionate figure. The event, sponsored by the Andrew Goodman Foundation and the Women’s Center, aimed to shed light on this newfound momentum and explain the significance of the three new Senators.
Tammy Duckworth, originally born in Thailand, has become the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress, as well as the first disabled woman. A veteran of the armed forces, Duckworth lost limbs in an unfortunate helicopter crash. Duckworth serves on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, advocating for small business and serving in both the House and Senate.
Kamala Harris, a new Senator from California, is the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general of California. Harris has been a prominent civil rights activist fighting for underprivileged Americans as well as the LGBTQ community. One of her other signature focuses is criminal justice reform, a topic in which she has advocated strongly for since her rise in California.
The third woman elected to Senate is Catherine Cortez Masto, a woman of Mexican and Italian decent that became the first Latina to represent her state in the Senate. Cortez Masto’s core principals include a comprehensive immigration form with a pathway to citizenship and equal rights for all.
The moderators of the discussion, Gautam and Navazio, gave insight into why this is important for the progression of America, but also pointed how alarming it is that it took until 2017 to get more women of color represented in the Senate.
“It’s a good sign, but the rate in which it’s increasing is low… It’s 2017, you know? There’s only four women of color in the Senate,” explained Gautam.
Following up, Navazio mentioned that, “the proportion is completely off still and doesn’t match up with the total population of women of color or people of color in general.”
“That’s why this event needed to happen,” said Navazio.