“Time to turn the page and write the new chapter, and what does that look like?”
It is a new day in America.
Today, American is marching “forward.” Yet, many are threatened by the new day and all that it represents.
In walks “The Squad”—new leadership for a new day. The self-proclaimed Squad consists of four freshmen Congresswomen—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Ilhan Omar (D- MN); Ayanna Pressley (D-MA); and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)—all of African American and Latino descent. These women of color boldly and confidently raise their voices and express their visions for and views about America.
Despite the fact that their presence and political views actually help Congress to reflect as well as represent the diversity of our nation, both Republican and Democratic leadership have attempted to silence their voices.
On the one hand, there is exclusive leadership. This political aisle says, “This is how we operate. You are not important. Your voice is not significant. You are not welcome here. You are not one of us—the ‘real’ Americans.”
On the other hand, there is inclusive leadership. This political aisle says, “This is how we operate. We welcome you. We embrace you. We recognize you. BUT, you must play by our rules, and eventually, we will get to you and your concerns.”
No matter what they say or how they say it, both political aisles are essentially saying, “Be quiet.”
Whether expressed in a disrespectful or dismissive manner or whether the intentions are malicious or plausible is irrelevant. Neither aisle recognizes women of color.
The attempt to silence women of color is generational, cultural, systemic and, yes, racist. Despite which analytical lens one choses to use to understand this reality, the silencing of women of color is factual and pervasive. In fact, it has prevailed throughout American history.
For far too long, women of color have lived and operated in an America that denies, devalues and dismisses their presence and their voices. Unrecognized. Unseen. Unheard. That is the reality of women of color. Many Americans are familiar with Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, but what about the invisible woman?
The Squad recognizes this reality. They assertively choose not to play either the Republican or the Democratic game. They understand the system and how it operates. Their silence is meant to exclude their concerns, maintain the status quo, and ensure that others feel “safe” with their presence.
The Squad responds, “No, we will not be silenced, not to the demise of our communities. Our lives, our communities, our issues and, yes, our voices matter.”
Put another way, as Stella Adams of the NAACP so eloquently stated, “I am not going to ‘un-matter me’ to make you feel comfortable.”
The Squad is indeed writing a new chapter in the American history books.
You may be one that disagrees with The Squad. You may disagree with their statements. You may disagree with their politics. You may even disagree with their style. But, one fact remains: you now hear the voices of women of color.
The Squad boldly proclaims, “I choose NOT to remain silent.”
Through asserting their voices, The Squad is saying and doing much more than what many Americans realize. They are purposefully and methodically demolishing the “old” modus of operandi, and they are creating a new way for a new day! In this new reality, America recognizes the presence and hears the voices of women of color.
In walks The Squad. “We will not be silent. We will not be pushed to the side. We will not wait while our communities suffer. We will not sacrifice our own or our communities’ agendas any longer. We will not retreat. And, no, we are not going away.”
“We are here! We are American!!! We will be heard!!!!!”
An American historian specializing in African American and Mexican American history and relations, Ramona Houston, PhD, PMP, inspires minds and connects communities. She serves the community by providing workshops and presentations that help audiences to identify and address racial bias in order to establish healthier relationships and more effective organizations. Contact Dr. Houston to learn how she may support you or your organization.