author – activist – faculty – mom
I come from an electoral politics family. My mother was the first Latina elected to the Berkeley Board of Education. So I went to boring meetings and parties where everyone was talking politics and handed out lots of flyers for my mom’s campaigns. But one thing I’ll never forget was meeting my congressman: Ron Dellums. As a small child, Dellums looked like a giant. He reached down and shook my hand. I was star struck. Perhaps it was then that I decided I wanted to become a congresswoman. By the time I went to college, that was my plan. I would study political science and by the time he retired, I would be ready to take his seat.
Of course, I didn’t really like political science. The professor wasn’t talking about contemporary issues, but rather the Peloponnesian War. Over time, I became more comfortable as an activist and political artist. And of course, who could possibly have done a better job filling his seat than the woman I’m very proud to call my congresswoman now, Barbara Lee.
Lately, I’m inspired by black and Latina women running for office and working to make change in electoral politics, like Stacey Abrams, running for Governor of Georgia, Congress hopefuls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts and Pamela Harris right here running for City Council in District 4 in Oakland. As well as electoral activists like Aimee Allison and Jessica Byrd. I am clear, however that elected office isn’t for me. My path is to write the stories. So I’m grateful that an amazing new generation of women is taking up the vote-run-lead banner.
And a new generation is needed. I didn’t agree with all of Ron Deullms’ choices since he left Washington, particularly during his time as Oakland’s mayor. But I will never forget the tall black man with the graying afro that smiled down at me and shook my hand, like I had political importance, like he was convinced that I could make a difference in the world.