Political Representation or the Lack Thereof
Posted by Nigel Morton
October 20, 2015
Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Carly Fiorina are the only people running for a presidential nomination who are not white men.* That’s 4 of 21. That’s 19%. There are 2 women running for president. That’s not even 10%. A recent photo series by British Elle awesomely illustrates the gender disparity in politics by taking pictures from different political happenings and taking all the men out.
So often I hear people asking why it’s taking too long to make long term change in how our country deals with racism and sexism. I just want to show people these numbers. White men seem to continue benefit under the laws because they are the ones writing the laws. They wouldn’t even consider passing laws banning erectile dysfunction medication under the same religious façade they use to legislate women’s bodies.
I think that it’s great people are noticing that we have 4 presidential hopefuls that aren’t white men. I don’t think it’s great that people are stuck in thinking that only having 4 is just fine. By not recognizing it as a problem is preventing us to grow as a society and push ourselves to be better.
The idea of tokenizing the few who push the norm just to have their voices heard is just another way to keep marginalized people from having a voice. It allows the oppressors to say things like ‘We’re not sexist/racist/transphobic/homophobic. We have your one woman/person of color/queer person. Stop making such a fuss and let us get back to business’ (business being finding new ways to restrict peoples’ rights).
Overall, these numbers are just a small glimpse of the reasons why feminism and other movements like #blacklivesmatter exist in the first place. Beyond the issue of representation to serve as role models, it’s an issue of literal life and death incited by lack of legal and political representation.
With our society becoming increasingly diverse, Millennials being the most racially diverse population of adults yet with 43% being people of color, we need work towards fixing our legal and political representation just as hard as we are in media. So continue asking the critical questions, gaining positions of notoriety, and help empower those fighting with you. The most important thing anyone can do is vote. Be informed about the voting requirements in your state and the issues at hand, vote, and get your friends to vote.
*Many people also cite Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz here as non-white. While both identify as Hispanic, that is an ethnicity, rather than their race. However, this is a bit of splitting hairs, even counting Cruz and Rubio, the field is still not even close to representative of the American populace.