To be a double minority, to be a black woman, is to be a force.
On Tuesday, Democratic Party presidential-nominee Joe Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate for the 2020 presidential election. The historic declaration highlighted America’s political past, void of any Black women as the country’s vice-president.
The effects of this monumental decision strongly resonated with minority voters in Detroit. Black women in the city of Detroit have been especially affected by historic occasions; Harris’ nomination for vice-president comes nearly 50 years after Detroit gained its first African-American city councilwoman.
One young voter felt a rush of shock when hearing Harris would be Biden’s vice-presidential running mate.
“I thought she was out of the picture,” said 22-year-old Amber Stephens. “I just felt like there wasn’t enough support, there’s definitely some controversy with the previous district attorney position that she had. I knew he’d pick a woman, but I didn’t think it’d be her.”
Harris was a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2019 and dropped out of the race due to a lack of support; many of Harris’ goals failed to resonate with voters. In March 2020 Harris endorsed Biden in a video posted on Twitter.
“We still have yet to achieve those ideals, but one of the greatest things about us is that we are willing to fight to get there,” she said. “So I just wanted you guys to know…I have decided that I am, with great enthusiasm, going to endorse Joe Biden.”
Biden’s recent decision to include Harris on the ticket was partially inspired by the country’s need for racial and ethnic representation. During a press conference Wednesday, Biden brought attention to the racial inequity in today’s media; specific mention was placed on young minority girls, often neglected by society, who he hopes are “seeing themselves for the first time in a new way” because of Harris.
Inspiration has no age limit. Detroit-native and recent college graduate Kristen Nelson gains her motivation from women like Harris.
“It would mean a great deal to see someone who looks like me be in one of the most powerful positions in America. As an aspiring attorney, Senator Harris has motivated me even more to pursue a degree in law with hopes of one day running my own law firm,” said Nelson.
Positions of power, despite being glamorous to outsiders, come with their own unique set of challenges. Some young voters are worried that Harris will face obstacles because of her race and sex.
“She’ll have a lot of subtle challenges,” said Stephens. “Men talking about her position or people talking about things unrelated to her decision making and the policies she creates or supports. I feel like they’re going to do anything they can to discredit what she does in office.”
Others are confident that she will come out on top.
“There may come a time when some will question her judgment or opinions because she is a Black woman. However, Senator Harris is a strong woman, and I believe she will overcome situations that aim to discredit her,” said Nelson.