On Saturday after securing the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, former Vice President Joe Biden is now the President-Elect of the 2020 election beating out Donald Trump.
But the lens should shift to focus on Sen. Kamala Harris, who is the first Black person and first South Asian person to be elected as Vice President. No woman of any race has ever held the position in the history of the United States.
Harris walks along the path forged by Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968, 52 years ago. Six years later, Chisholm became the first Black major-party candidate to run for president in 1972, making her also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Both Harris and Barack Obama bask in the light of Chisholm’s legacy: Obama was first elected to the White House 12 years ago this week. Harris will be faced with unique challenges which includes escaping tokenism and establishing trust with disinterested Black voters who were weary of her former prosecutorial record.
Many believe this could cement Harris’ pathway to the White House in future elections, should she choose to run.
Harris win adds to her record of securing a series of first, beginning with her win as the first Black Attorney General San Francisco and California, as well as being the first Black person to represent California in the Senate.
Harris will have a lot of work to do once she enters the White House in January, and supported a series of progressive polices and legislation during her time in Congress.
Black voters will also need to see a return on their investment from the White House, after years of empty promises and policy which has stalled to increase the quality of life for Black people in America.
Black voters need the administration to actively listen to the specific needs of Black women and Black voters around key issues like income equality, police brutality, LGBTQ rights and criminal justice reform.
Prior to accepting the Biden ticket, Harris laid out a series of progressive plans addressing the maternal mortality rate which disproportionately affects Black women, the Justice in Police Reform Act, which is stalled in the Senate, reducing the rape kit backlog, and increasing cash access for middle class household.
This week white voters and white political pundits were finally made aware that the Black vote cannot be denied or negated. The election came down to majority Black cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Again Black communities were burdened with the restoration of the republic, even if the candidate at hand has not spoken directly to their interests.