I’ll never forget what another Black woman serving in elected office told me in the aftermath of a traumatic, racist experience I encountered almost one year ago today. During a crying phone call, she said to me that when you’re a Black woman, you can never ‘just serve’ in public office. There’s no such thing as simply campaigning, showing up, doing your job, and going home. Why? Because every single barrier, racist or sexist experience you encounter stays with you. As the second Black woman elected in my city’s history, it’s a phrase I’ll never forget.
I was elected to the Portland, Maine City Council in November of 2021, in what I call the ‘new generation’ of Black leadership in public office. After the murder of George Floyd and the racial awakening this country experienced in 2020, we saw record-breaking numbers of Black women campaigning and being elected to public office. Despite my excitement for more of us in elected positions, we are still severely underrepresented in government - and I believe this is by design. Our current system not only enhances the barriers that stop us from accessing public office but also hinders our ability to craft equitable policies once elected.Read more