For the first time ever, there will be a woman vice-president in the White House.
Kamala Harris made history when she was elected as the 49th U.S. vice-president on Saturday. Starting on Jan. 20, 2021, she’ll be serving under U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden. She’s the first woman and person of colour to hold the high-ranking position.
On Saturday, when Harris gave her first speech as vice-president-elect, she chose an outfit that represented the monumental achievement.
Many female politicians will wear white, a colour favoured by suffragettes, on significant days. It’s what Shirley Chisolm wore in 1968, when she was the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress. It’s what the first woman nominated for vice-president, Geraldine Ferraro, wore when she accepted the party’s nomination in 1984. Hillary Clinton wore white to Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2016. U.S. House Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez wore a white suit when she was sworn into Congress in 2019, and again on her Vogue magazine cover in August.
Vogue reported on Saturday that Harris’ white suit was by female-led label Caroline Herrera. The magazine also suggested there may have been a meaning to her pussy-bow blouse, as well, speculating that she made the choice “perhaps in silent protest against President Trump’s most famous line.”
In the speech she gave on Saturday, Harris said she hoped girls would be inspired by her win, and she looked forward to see them follow in her footsteps.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said. “Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”
On Saturday evening, writer Austin Channing Brown posted a call on Twitter for parents to share photos of their children watching Harris’ speech, to see how they were responding.
The results were inspiring. Many people from around the world responded with photos of their daughters watching the speech, marvelling at how someone who looked like them had attained that kind of power. It soon expanded to pictures of nieces and granddaughters.
The message sent to all young girls, but especially girls of colour, was a powerful one: You, too, can be whatever you want to be. It’s a message lots of girls are frequently told, but there aren’t many examples to prove that it’s true.
As some parents pointed out, Kamala’s victory was important for boys to see, too.
In an interview with U.S. media company theSkimm, Harris talked about how important it is to her that the open doors to other people from marginalized communities.
“I’ve been the first woman and the first person of colour in almost every position I’ve had,” she said.
“I was raised by my mother, and one piece of advice she would say is, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.’”
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