Read WFC CEO Surina Khan’s thoughts about the vice presidential selection and how it affirms the pervasive racism and sexism in our country.
She’s too young, too ambitious, too strong. When it comes to politics, women, specifically women of color, have been reduced to a stereotype. Instead of focusing on her qualifications, many headlines focus on the candidates’ personality, if she’s well liked, too aggressive, or too embedded in political life. And this year’s vice presidential race is no exception, in fact it proves the rule: electability is tainted by sexism.
That’s why, the Women’s Foundation California is pledging our support to the “We Have Her Back” letter. Signed by NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue, EMILY’s List’s Stephanie Shriock, Time’s Up’s Tina Tchen, Planned Parenthood’s Alexis McGill Johnson, former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, along with many others.
At WFC, we believe culture creates change. Culture is in everything we do, from what we watch, to what we read, to what we say (or Tweet), to who we elect. Black women are the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. They have succeeded in changing our culture and the way we view the arc of progress forever. Even with this success it’s difficult to believe that people still continue to question the success and ability of Black women in positions of power after they’ve shown again and again that they have the ability to move, persuade, and lead millions.
This effort to advance gender justice is core to our work of the past 40 years at WFC. Our California Gender Justice Funders Network (CGJFN) is one example of how we’re changing the way our culture talks about and treats all women (cisgender, trans and gender non-conforming and genderqueer people) by centering gender at the heart of solutions to any systemic problem.
CGJFN launched a $10 million Culture Change Fund, the first of its kind to transform how the public thinks about wide-ranging issues from racism, abortion, contraception, pay equity, closing the women’s wealth gap, income security, and gender-based violence, and harassment. We are a community of funders, activists, artists, and researchers working together to accelerate these radical shifts happening in our culture.
As we face a historic moment having a woman on a Presidential Campaign ticket, this is the perfect opportunity to center and amplify marginalized voices. Just as California leads the way on progressive political and cultural issues, two Black women from our state, Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Karen Bass are on the short list for VP, the national conversation on what gender justice and freedom looks like is changing.
Our Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) is a part of this progressive wave of building the leadership of people impacted by gender-based oppression, violence, and discrimination. This is the next generation of leaders, the future VPs who will lead our country, with the understanding that those closest to the problem have the solution.
In the 230 year history of the presidency, this will only be the third time a woman will be nominated as the VP for a major party. For too long, white men have set the agenda and more importantly the narrative. The tide is changing. In order to experience a sea change, we must ensure that not only the people holding power change, but the culture that we all live, learn, love, vote, and work in changes as well.