January 20, 2021
VP-Elect Harris, History-Maker
Many disturbing events have occurred over the past year leading up to now — a runaway pandemic, deaths of Black civilians at the hands of police, the baseless challenge against our Presidential election results, and, surprisingly, an attack by domestic terrorists on our U.S. Capitol. Many Americans probably feel the way that I do: ashamed of, infuriated at, and concerned with the lack of leadership during these challenging times. However, we have found a light at the end of this long journey.
The former Democratic U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who many of you may view as a strong, assertive, and determined woman, will make history in our nation alongside President- elect Joe Biden as the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history. This is an historical moment, in 243 years of America’s Independence the U.S. has never had a woman as Vice President. On Wednesday, Inauguration Day, Ms. Harris will be sworn into office as the Vice President of the United States of America. In addition, Ms. Harris will not only be the first female Vice President but the first Black and Asian American Vice President. We all will have the good fortune to say we witnessed this remarkable milestone.
Though her accomplishment gladdens me and many others, I believe that it is long overdue. Ms. Harris is a woman who has acknowledged the need for law enforcement reforms, pledged to offer a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States, and has not been afraid to be the change America needs. Her accomplishments, as a U.S. Senator and California’s Attorney General, and even in her televised debate with Republican Vice President Mike Pence, are astonishing. Ms. Harris has reached a peak that many women have been told they cannot and will not achieve. Ms. Harris has proven the naysayers wrong.
As a young woman who has elevated goals, I am given great hope and encouragement by this signature event to continue to pursue my dreams. 1/20/21 will not only be the day the first woman achieved the position as Vice President but also, the day in which young girls will watch her inauguration and think: That will be me. It is and will continue to be a date in which we as women will rejoice in the accomplishment of another hard-working and determined woman. While I was too young to vote in this past election, I will be supporting Ms. Harris with my Chucks and pearls.
In light of this auspicious occasion, I asked some highly accomplished, high-ranking women at St. Benedict’s Prep to express their emotions on this glorious moment in history.
Here are their thoughts:
Ms. Michelle Tuorto, Associate Headmaster for Academics: “Some men resented our presence in their enclaves, like in the sciences and engineering, and made it well known. As for women in leadership, I know you’ve heard the same things as me – we’re too emotional, hysterical, and illogical to be in charge, and why have a woman in leadership if she’s just going to go off and have kids anyway?” She continued by explaining, “I say all this to juxtapose what we will witness (Wednesday) – a Black and South Asian woman installed in the second highest office of the land. She has experienced all of the sexist — and racist, for those women of color– nonsense we’ve experienced. Someone that looks like us has made it.”
Ms. Analisa Branco, Dean of the Girls Prep Division: “For every single one of us women who have ever been told we couldn’t do something because we were women, this moment defines us. Kamala represents all little girls and women of different cultural backgrounds as the first African-Indian American woman to sit as Vice-President. She represents diversity! She represents empowerment! She represents strength! She represents the U.S.!” This all adds up, Ms. Branco added, to one important idea: “Hope for the future – hope that one day a woman will hold the power to sit in the Oval Office and lead our nation.”
Sr. Ann Marie Gass, SSJ, Dean of the Elementary Division: “(Ms. Harris) brings to the table a deeper and broader sense of not just talking about but sharing from an experience so often missed/neglected in our present day situation. Her expertise, intelligence, work ethic, empathy and desire to understand the needs of all people, places her in a position of strength to represent everyone and not just a select few.”
We finally come to a change of power which should frankly be expected but has come to most as a sigh of relief — which just goes to show the chaotic state in which the United States finds itself.
I have seen many fellow Americans become far too complacent with the idea of the next four years under the Biden Administration. To that I just have to remind people that not all problems will be solved in America as soon as President Donald Trump leaves office. His departure is merely a step in the right direction of a long walk ahead.
Our country is not in a place where one politician can completely solve its problems. It’s far easier to create problems than address them — we have seen the influence the Presidency holds and what that has been able to do in just four years.
We must now work to get that influence to be used in our favor. The beauty of a country like the United States lies in the power of its people. For, even through dark times like these, we have seen time and again that when we fight — together — for the same cause we are stronger.
We mustn’t let the changes we want done die due to lack of action. Throughout this time we have seen historical voter turnouts and an overall increase in political interest in the country which we cannot leave as a trend for when election years come around.
Mr. Joe Biden is the president. But the outcome could’ve been different. However, our goal should have been the same because no matter who is in office. The same problems in America persist and have existed for hundreds of years. Systemic injustice placed on people of color is nothing new to this country yet still has not been solved.
To the American people and to the people of our community here at St. Benedict’s, I would just like to ask: Is it really enough to bank on a candidate to do something on his or her own? In my opinion, it’s not. We must be heard and hear each other out in order to not end up like generations before us who just couldn’t quite get the job done.
Wouldn’t it be great to be the generation that survived a Presidential Administration campaigning on nothing but fear, got through a global pandemic, and eradicated this country’s systemic racism?
Why couldn’t that be true?
Many people like to say we are living through historic times. I agree.
In fact, I would say the history books are continuously (yes, as Webster’s says, meaning “continuing without interruption”) being written.
It is our job to choose the legacy in which we will be remembered. It is the actions we take and the motives for them that write our legacy.
A common ground during times when the country seems as divided as ever can only be found through empathy and listening to one another. We need to do this, especially when we disagree with the person with whom we are talking.
The only thing I ask of Mr. Biden is to listen to and to advocate for the voice and needs of the American people. Bring us the unity and equity we need so much.