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Ayanna Pressley

Things We Like–An All Woman Congressional Squad

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Aug. 15 2019, Published 4:00 a.m. ET

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#Squadgoals is everywhere these days but what does that really mean? One might imagine it looks a lot like “The Squad” consisting of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. These four women are creating quite a buzz as an unapologetic and zealous crew of women of color. They are shifting the narrative not only in politics but also within their own party. 

From President Trump to Democratic party leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, these four women have found themselves at a crossroads with a number of political figures over several different issues. One key issue the four women are particularly outspoken about is the treatment of migrants at the border of the U.S. During a hearing for the House Oversight and Reform Committee, following a group of Democrats’ visit to the Texas border, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared, “It is a policy of dehumanizing.” She was referring to the conditions migrants experience while detained following their entry into the U.S. The Squad, amongst others, were frustrated with the House Speaker when she agreed to pass a bill to send more funding to the border, arguing that there were not enough protections for migrant children in the middle of all of it. 

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The four political powerhouses earned their crew’s name after an interview with Gayle King when she asked what to caption a photo the four elected officials on Instagram. Representative Ocasio-Cortez responded, “#squadgoals?” After uploading the post to her Instagram, the pop culture phrase became the tagline alluding to the excitement around these women’s friendship and bond. 

According to the Pew Research Center, for the fifth time in a row, the 116th Congress marked the most racially and ethnically diverse Congress ever. That being said, Congress has still been disproportionately white when compared with the overall U.S. population. In accordance with these trends, it is evident that the existence of “The Squad” represents a historic moment in history. Ocasio-Cortez, at 29, is the youngest woman elected to Congress; Tlaib and Omar are the first female Muslim lawmakers on the Hill, and Pressley is the first black woman to represent a Massachusetts district.

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While some may think the attention they are receiving is just sensational, the women have experienced a wave of support including fundraising for their political campaigns as well as an increase of over a million followers online collectively. Katie Kirchner, Program Director of Roosevelt Forward shared her thoughts about “The Squad”. “We know that it matters who writes the rules — by changing the people who have decision making power in government we change the way that our democracy works,  pushing it closer to the actual ideals of democracy itself.”

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As Congress continues to diversify so has its electorate, a key aspect the Democratic party will have to consider. Only 55 percent of the millennial generation is non-Hispanic white. Women of color are also estimated to make up roughly 20 percent of the Democratic electorate and comprise 25 percent of the population in key swing states like Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina. 

Nadya Okamoto, Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD had this to say about the four Representatives, “The squad is paving the way for young women of color around the world, and showing what it looks like when people do not stand down from blatant racism and sexism and fight for what they believe in. Power to the squad!” 

Whatever your viewpoint is on these women and the policies they support, it is hard to argue the impact they are having within their party and the political landscape at-large.  

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By: Chante Harris

Chante writes about politics, social impact, tech, and innovation. As a creative business and political strategist, she helps companies and brands, many of whom are startups and/or in the tech and sustainability space, create long-term sustainable success in the New York market through effective business strategy, policy analysis, social impact initiatives, and creative branding. When she is not consulting, she serves as a Recruitment Associate with the Women's Information Network (WIN.NYC) and a Board Member for the Kota Alliance, New York's world center for women. With extensive experience working on national issue-based campaigns in Washington D.C. including the Obama Administration's sexual assault initiative, It's On Us, higher education debt, and fundraising efforts for a few electoral campaigns, she is passionate about creating a dialogue that brings together disruption and policy.

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