The election of Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States has made history and broken many barriers that have been in place since the founding of our nation: she is the first woman, the first Black person, the first person of South Asian descent, the first child of immigrants, and the first biracial person to be elected to the Vice Presidency. In her acceptance speech, Kamala acknowledged the firsts of her election, saying “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
In her acceptance speech, Kamala recognized that she stood “on the shoulders of all the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote;” it is crucial at this point to remember that she was elected on a wave of anti-racist and feminist social movement power. For many of us, Kamala Harris embodies the promise of social justice, and we, the members of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at Rutgers University, acknowledge and celebrate this historic moment and this historic election.
We also acknowledge and celebrate, and express our deepest gratitude for, the organizing work carried out by Black women across this country, including Stacy Abrams and her supporters in Georgia; for the Native American organizers who were instrumental in changing the vote in Arizona; for the supporters of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib who brought out hundreds of thousands of voters in Michigan and Minnesota; and for all of the voters who came to the polls, many for the first time, to bring about this historic moment.
We urge Vice President-Elect Harris and all of those elected to continue to work for social justice, to stay in dialogue with and to remain accountable to the social movements, organizers and voters who propelled them and the Democratic ticket to power, and, in particular, to listen to voters and activists protesting for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality.
These elections changed the course of history because of the grassroots organizing work, the votes, and the activism of Black, Muslim and Indigenous women, members of LGBTQ communities, and communities of color across the country. We celebrate the organizing, the protests, and the hard work of everyone who made this history-making possible. Our community of feminists: scholars, activists, teachers, and artists; of bipoc, queer, first-generation women and non-binary folks; of people from New Jersey and across the world, will continue our 50-year-long history of speaking truth to power, working for justice, and creating knowledge for everyone. We will work for justice, teach for equality, and read and write in order to build new worlds. We hope that our leaders will work alongside us, alongside activists, protestors, and organizers, to make this moment part of a larger wave of lasting change for all. Let’s continue to make history, and to dream and work to make the world a place where security is not carceral and justice is for everyone!
Dr. Ethel Brooks
Chair and Graduate Program Director
Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Click the link for PDF version:WGSS statement on Kamala Harris US Vice President-elect.pdf