With many firsts, Harris’s inauguration impacts girls of color on campus

Kamala+Harris+has+broken+several+glass+ceilings+in+her+historic+career%2C+becoming+the+first+person+of+South+Asian+descent+and+second+Black+woman+to+serve+in+the+Senate%2C+and+now+the+highest-ranked+female+official+in+American+history.+

Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Kamala Harris has broken several glass ceilings in her historic career, becoming the first person of South Asian descent and second Black woman to serve in the Senate, and now the highest-ranked female official in American history.

By Trisha Dasgupta, Liberty High School - TX

Kamala Devi Harris, born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father in the time of Jim Crow and segregation, was sworn in as the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian to ever hold the office of Vice President early Wednesday morning. 

For many young women of color, Vice President Harris’s inauguration meant more than just a transition of power, but rather a symbol of what they could achieve or who they could become.

There’s been so much racism against immigrants, and so much anti-Immigrant rhetoric. And then today, we watched Kamala Harris, a woman of color, and a daughter of immigrants get sworn in at the second-highest office in the country,”

— junior Aleeza Hussain

“For me, it means that if women of color or just women in general work hard then it actually is possible for us to hold higher positions of power,” junior Nina Wright said. “I feel like this is going to change the world’s outlook on how women are seen.”

Harris has broken several glass ceilings in her historic career, becoming the first person of South Asian descent and second Black woman to serve in the Senate, and now the highest-ranked female official in American history. Youth and Government President Sanjana Dandu believes that Harris’s position will have lasting impacts on American society.  

“I think that having her, as a powerful woman of color, representing our country will definitely set forth rippling paradigms throughout our nation,” Dandu said via text. “Although I cannot predict the future, I do hope that she is just the beginning of a new wave of diverse women getting elected into power.”

Shifts in the campaign season and elections have already started to be seen, as a record number of women ran for office in the 2020 elections. Wright thinks that seeing Harris in office will only increase those changes. 

“I definitely think this will pave the way for other women of color to be in office,” Wright said. “Before Kamala, I feel like women were less likely to even run because the norm was to just see men run. But now that not only did she run but she won it gives hope to others to try.”

President Biden has appointed the most diverse cabinet in history, including the first transgender person to serve in a Presidential cabinet and the most number of cabinet members of South Asian descent, along with the first female Vice President. 

“It’s really cool seeing Kamala Harris become the Vice President after years of racist rhetoric,” Hussain said. “For the last few years, there’s been  so much anti-immigrant rhetoric. And then today, we watched Kamala Harris, a woman of color, and a daughter of immigrants get sworn in at the second-highest office in the country. It’s such a welcome change.”

Before Kamala, I feel like women were less likely to even run because the norm was to just see men run. But now that not only did she run but she won it gives hope to others to try.”

— junior Nina Wright

Growing up without representation was difficult, according to Dandu, who is excited to see the impact Harris will have on young girls of color. 

“Seeing a half Black and half Indian woman in a position of power would have helped me understand that someone who has the same culture as me is completely equipped to help lead a country,” Dandu said. “Idols and people we look up to represent a great deal of who we would like to be as people; having an idol like VP Harris would have made an enormous impact on me as a kid.”

Although Harris’s swearing-in was monumental, AP Language teacher Swapna Gardner reminds everyone that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Kamala Harris is from the same part of India as me, so during the election, they showed her family in India, kind of like promoting her and it was cool to see. It was nice to have that connection and that is something I haven’t been able to see with politicians prior to this,” Gardner said. “In the long run I do feel like there’s so much more we need to do so like it is a tiny little cool thing that happened but I’m looking forward to more bigger things that will impact more people coming up.”

Click a button and listen to what other students and staff members have to say about the first woman, and the first woman of color, to become Vice President of the United States:

ThingLink created by staff reporters Erika Pernis and Athena Tseng

This story was originally published on Wingspan on January 20, 2021.