“There is no time like the present” is a euphemism most, if not all of us, have heard at one time or another. The challenges we face as a nation and a planet are complex and wide-ranging. The Coronavirus pandemic, racial unrest/ethnic strife, political upheaval, climate change – there is no person alive that hasn’t been untouched by at least one of these, if not a mix of all of them. And yet, with these unprecedented challenges, we are witnessing a step-change in leadership being ushered in by a wave of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) women who have stepped into roles that have catapulted them into the world’s consciousness.
With the inauguration of Joe Biden, we saw Kamala Harris step into history as the nation’s first female and first female of Black & South Asian descent as Vice President. Before that, she served as only the second Black female and first female of South Asian descent as a Senator in the US Congress.
Another former Senator moving into a higher position within the administration is Deb Haaland. Ms. Haaland is the first person of Indigenous descent to serve as an Interior Secretary and the second serving in a Cabinet role for a President.
As the historic 2020 Presidential election unfolded, the state of Georgia became the story within the story. Stacy Abrams, a Black woman who lost her bid for Governor back in 2018, became a central figure in the state, going Blue for a Presidential election for the first time in 20 years. She took what she learned from her loss in 2018, she mobilize the turnout among Black voters that swung the state for the newly elected President. She continues to use her intellect and experiences to rally support, preserving and expanding voting access to Black, Brown, and other underrepresented communities of color.
We would not have the terms “intersectionality” and “Say Her Name” without Kimberle Crenshaw, an African-American lawyer, activist, and professor at the UCLA School of Law AND the Columbia School of Law. Although it started 30 years ago, her groundbreaking work on intersectionality – how race, class, gender, and other characteristics collide with one another – and critical race theory (CRT) have molded the current equality conversation.
On the other side of the world, Malala Yousafzai – simply known as “Malala.” She is the youngest-ever Nobel Peace laureate, winning the prize in 2014 at 17. Born into a family of educational activism, she began her work at the age of 11 to educate girls like herself born under the Taliban regime in her native Pakistan. With an unsuccessful assassination attempt on her life when she was 14, her profile and advocacy for girls and young women’s education have only grown in size and scope throughout the world.
During a forum hosted by the National Urban League in December 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated, “Kizzy is an African American scientist who is right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.” Dr. Fauci was referring to Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who, as a 34-year old spent the previous six years of her professional life performing the research to develop the mRNA vaccine that is now being distributed over the world to neutralize Covid-19. Operation Warp Speed would not have been remotely possible if it weren’t for the landmark scientific research of Dr. Corbett.
Few have captured our imaginations like Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, who delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration ceremony. Her words perfectly encapsulate this time in our history that is ripe for these and so many other amazing women of color to seize this moment in time to continue the work they are destined to do. She spoke,
“When day comes, we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light if we’re only brave enough to
see it. If we’re only brave enough to be it.”
featured image by @capturedby_kiana