I look to the world as a young black woman to pursue careers in male-dominated industries such as medicine and law, but with a lack of representation in those fields, you begin to wonder if I can do it. This isn’t an article of listing all those barriers but rather show that in the world, there is a lack of representation for people of colour particularly black women to look up to and that problem needs to be solved for the next generation and generations to come.
Thanks to the brilliant mind of Shonda Rhimes, we have television shows such as How To Get Away With Murder and Scandal that show women of colour in powerful positions and protagonists’ in their shows, not just side pieces to powerful men. Olivia Pope is a no nonsense brilliant lawyer and influential person in the world of politics in Washington, D.C. Annalise Keating is the upfront powerful attorney and professor who always delivers a winning case. They show diversity in an industry where black women aren’t greatly seen. I see these two powerful women be the best in their respective male-dominated industries and have hope for myself. The sad thing about this is that it doesn’t mirror the real world.
I live in Canada where our Prime Minister (our version of President) promotes and fights for diversity and gender equality, making sure his cabinet is full of diversity. While he has done a great job doing that; the cabinet is half men, half women with minorities from the Aboriginal, Afghan, and Sikh communities, and people with disabilities. The one area that lacks however is the representation of black women. God bless Justin Trudeau’s heart and he deserves credit for his continuous work on it, but in order to increase diversity in Canada and the world, we have to include minorities from the Hispanic, Asian, and black communities in areas like government. With only a few historic black women in Canadian government such as Michaëlle Jean and Anne Clare Cools, representation matters.
When I look to America, our neighbours to the south, about this issue, it isn’t much different. There are only 20 women currently in the Senate with no black women. In fact, there have only been 4 black men and women elected to the Senate including one woman: Carol Moseley Braun. In the House of Representatives that hold 435 seats, black women only make up 20 of those seats. There are only a few black women that are in the high places of the land such as Loretta Lynch, who is in Barack Obama’s cabinet and the first African-American woman to be Attorney General of the U.S. and Michelle Obama, who we know as the remarkable and intelligent First Lady; her title of First Lady is literal where she is the first black woman to be First Lady.
What does this mean? This means we have to work harder to elect black women and other minorities into government positions; to show young ladies and men of those demographics that they can too aspire to be like them. I personally want more representation because it is always nice to honor the ‘first black’ of anything, but I want a world where they can be more than the first of ‘said position’, that being a visible minority is the ‘norm.’ We all have a voice; I mean Barack Obama is in office, so we have to use that same voice that got him elected to elect these women first on their duty and dedication they have more than the colour of their skin and also encourage black women to run for these positions. We have to make sure representation is in place for all minorities including and especially black women.