Harris' words have reminded me about the times in my career when I was the only woman in the room and the men talked over me. I thought about the times I was told I was too this or that. If I wanted to get ahead, I should wait my turn, tone down my personality, look different, not show emotion, and don’t show how smart you are because it makes people uncomfortable.
In all those moments ― as difficult as they were ― it has been so much harder for Harris than it ever was for me, because I’m a white woman. As a woman of color in politics, she had an almost impossible path. Despite being just over 50% of the population, women still only hold a fourth of the seats in Congress, and women of color make up only of third that group.
Now Harris is the first woman in an elected role in the White House — an incredible feat.
It’s at these moments I can hear my grandmother whispering in my ear, “stop being afraid of what others might say, you are a grown (expletive) woman — speak up.”
So make no mistake, the response to Harris over the past few weeks is about sexism and racism and that makes some even more uncomfortable than politics.
It’s time to get comfortable with the discomfort because now every little girl and every woman knows it’s possible.
Vicki Giambrone works on child health policy and is a partner at CBD Advisors, consulting in strategic communication, public affairs and government relations. She is a member of the Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board.