Rep. Kiah Morris, the only black woman in the Vermont Legislature, announced her resignation from office last week, citing her husband’s health for her early resignation but also because Morris and her family had experienced “continued harassment” and were seeking legal restitution for “the harm endured.”
In August, Morris announced she would not be seeking re-election in the upcoming midterm elections because of “divisive” and “dangerous” language and harassment she experienced over social media.
Morris has also stated her home had been broken into and swastikas had been painted on trees next to her property when she was a representative.
Yes, times are changing. Yes, there are more minorities and unrepresented people groups running for office or already elected to office. However, we are still a long way from truly offering equal opportunity to every group represented in America.
Although the 115th Congress, which was elected at the end of 2016, was the most racially and ethnically diverse
Congress in history, it is still disproportionate to the general population in the United States, Whites make up 81 percent of this Congress but are only 62 percent of the population, according to a Pew Research report.
Nevertheless, it is clear the fight to give equal opportunity to any and every person in this country is not over. Despite minorities being voted into office, they still are being forced to fight for the position they earned.
While incredible strides have been made over the last several decades, it is ignorant to believe racism does not still exist in America, as I’m sure Morris would agree.
With the midterms fast approaching in November, there will be many chances for this upcoming Congress to make history again. A Native-American woman, a Muslim-American woman and a Korean-American woman are all running for Congress and would be the first in Congress if they win their elections. If Stacey Abrams wins her race, she will be the first black woman to be governor in the nation’s history.
The melting pot of Americans are getting the chance to elect a diverse group of people that will better mirror that nation itself. This is only a small part of continuing to change the culture of prejudice, racism or sexism into which people can easily fall.
At this point in history, we must understand that prejudice still exists, even for people in power. The way to actively fight against prejudice for elected officials is to offer feedback to people solely about their policies and actions — not about what they look like.