Even with the wave of women of color the midterm results have brought into office, women of color still remain the minority in the United States political system. 7.1% of the 535 members of Congress are women of color and of the six US governors that are women, only one of them is a woman of color. Although seemingly insignificant in numbers, Asian American women remain strong respective leaders. Mazie Hirono is one example of Asian American female leadership, making headlines lately by speaking out against Brett Kavanaugh. Called a “badass” by Esquire journalist Charles P. Pierce, Hirono is a reminder of how strong women of color can be.
Japanese American Hirono was born in a prefecture of Japan then moved to Hawaii at a young age. According to The New York Times, she is currently the only immigrant in the Senate and the only immigrant woman ever to serve. According to an article by National Public Radio, Hirono and her family traveled by ship for a week to Hawaii. NPR reports that “they lived in a boarding house, crowded into one room and sharing a stove and refrigerator with the other boarders ” while her mother “supported them by working low-wage jobs.” Currently, Hirono now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii.
At the time this blog post was written, Hirono continues to fight to better the lives of the people around her. Fervently vocal during the recent trial of Kavanaugh, Hirono states that she asked him about his sexual misconduct because she “did not want the #MeToo movement to be swept under the rug” (The New York Times). The type of tenacity Hirono demonstrates has the ability to revolutionize the U.S political system.
Even with the onset of Kavanaugh as our latest Supreme Court Justice, we cannot forget the effort of female politicians like Hirono who fight to better our country. Of Thai descent, Tammy Duckworth leads many as the first Asian American woman elected to Illinois congress. Meanwhile, US Senator Kamala Harris serves as the first South-Asian American woman in U.S political office.
Just as important as those already elected are those who have just been elected. The recent midterm has introduced a wave of hope with many firsts. Congress has welcomed its first two Muslim American women: Rashida Tlaib won in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, and Ilhan Omar, of the Minnesota 5th. Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Additionally, Davids will be the first openly LGBTQIA+ member of Congress from Kansas as well. South Dakota elected their first female governor while Tennessee and Arizona all had female firsts as well: South Dakota and Tennessee and Arizona elected their first female senator. Meanwhile, Texas sent their first two Hispanic women to Congress: Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia. Furthermore, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a New York U.S. House seat which makes her the youngest woman to ever enter U.S Congress. Vocalizing the needs of women of color remains pertinent in this country. To disregard the women of color who represent us today would be to forget about those who contribute to the important diversity and progress of the United States. Hopefully, the U.S political system can continue growing into a more diverse and just platform by electing those who represent underrepresented communities.