If You Wore a Pink Hat on January 21, Don’t Stop There.
By Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44).
Out of 435 members of Congress, there are 11 Latinas. And in the Senate, only one. That is like finding out the blueberry muffin you paid for only has two blueberries in it. Who wants a plain muffin without any blueberries?
The overall number of women in Congress actually took a slight drop this year, going from 84 to 83. It’s been over 20 years since the so-called, “Year of the Woman” but the statistics show not much is changing.
Most women have to be asked seven times to run for office before they seriously consider it. Meanwhile, men wake up in the morning and say “I’m going to run for President!”
I remember flipping through the TV channels one night when I came across a city council meeting. On the dais: five men, mostly older and not one person of color. I Google’d them, thinking these guys must have done amazing things to get elected. Nope. Then I thought about my own education and experiences.
So, I stepped up to the plate. I became the first Latina elected to the Hermosa Beach City Council and the first woman in ten years.
And later when I was approached to run for Congress, I knew things were changing.Voters no longer want to see the stereotypical candidate.
But we still have a long way to go. That’s why your voice is needed now more than ever. If you wore a pink hat on January 21, don’t stop there.
Here are five things you can do to see more Latinas in leadership:
- Talk to young girls about leadership. One of my favorite things to do when I see kids is to tell them that they can do anything they want, even become the President of the United States. The next time you run into a young girl, resist the urge to tell her how beautiful she is. Instead, compliment her leadership skills or talk to her about a woman she admires. You never know, that “bossy” girl just might become a member of Congress one day! Just sayin’.
- Ask a Latina to run for office. You may see in others what they don’t see in themselves. Remember that women have to be asked seven times before they run for office. You just might be number seven.
- Run for office. Yes, you.
- Vote. No explanation needed.
- Be visible, be loud. On a very cloudy, gray day, I wore a bright pink hat to Trump’s inauguration. It was my symbol of protest and my symbol of standing with women. I didn’t have to say a word, but my voice was heard. In your own way, let your voice be heard. Our girls are watching and listening.
My mom had just a third grade education and my dad was a television repairman. They never dreamed their youngest could go from a job at McDonalds to one day becoming a Member of Congress. Let’s work to change the makeup of Congress, to increase our numbers and have it look more like our community.
Congresswoman Barragán represents California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts/Willowbrook, and Wilmington. Barragán serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Natural Resources. She serves as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Task Force for Environment, Public Lands and Water.