Young women around the country are eager to see Kamala Harris take on the mantle of vice president under President-elect Joe Biden — but some college-aged progressives expressed skepticism about the reforms she will bring to the table.
The 2020 election results mark a historical milestone in the 100 years since women won the right to vote, with Harris as the first Black and South Asian woman heading to the White House.
“There is a long, long, long line of men in these roles, predominantly white men,” said Maddie Badowski, 20, who runs Texas Belles at University of Texas-Austin, an organization that helps college women gain professional skills. “I’ve been waiting for this moment.”
Badowski, who rooted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, hopes this means she will see a woman president in the near future.
“The problem is that women don’t have many role models in those positions, and that’s why we can’t seem to get there,” she said. “As soon as you break through, it makes it that much easier for it to become the norm.”
While students such as Badowski believe Harris’ win is bigger than any one person, others cautioned that issues faced by women and people of color would not automatically get solved when she takes office.
Aanchal Swarup, a 20-year-old student at Boston University, said Democratic voters should be realistic about what can be accomplished when the new administration takes office.
“South Asians shouldn’t be expecting that, because we have someone in office of that descent, [Harris] will be working towards our agenda,” Swarup said.
“We shouldn’t just sit back and expect her to do things” for people of color, she added.
Still, Swarup said Biden “picked a good running mate” in Harris, whom she said “reflects America.”
Nya Etienne, 19, core organizer for Coalition of Minority Journalists at New York University, said she feels similarly about Harris — grateful for the representation, but skeptical of her policies.
“As a black woman, I’m expected to instantly support her,” said Etienne. But, “she’s not my ideal politician.”
Etienne urged voters to hold the new administration just as accountable as the current one. She said she was disappointed with some of Harris’ policies when the California senator was state Attorney General, especially those around criminal justice and prison reform — which critics say disproportionately affected Black and brown communities.
“I am a bit nervous about how [Biden/Harris] are going to deliver on their promises, when their past actions don’t match up with what they’re promising now,” she said. “While I celebrate her achievements as a Black woman, I can’t overlook the fact that she has harmed the same communities she represents.”
While some younger progressives may be skeptical about what the future holds, veteran voting rights activists such as Glynda Carr, co-founder of political action committee Higher Heights for America, said the victory is a step in the right direction.
“At the end of the day, we celebrate the historic election of Kamala Harris as a woman of color,” said Carr, who works to help elect progressive Black women to all levels of office.
“She will — not only because of her qualifications, but because of her lived experiences as the daughter of immigrants — have an intersectional lens that we have never had before,” Carr added. “And that literally is the power of her stepping into that Oval Office.”
Senior Staff Writer Corinne Lestch contributed to this report.