Taylor Dumpson’s run for student body president shows the disgraceful backlash black women face.
One morning this February, I stood in front of an enthusiastic group of college women at American University encouraging them to run for student government. One of those students, Taylor Dumpson, ran for student body president and won as the first black woman elected to that leadership position.
This is one of my favorite parts of my job: I travel around the country speaking to young women and encouraging them to run for office. Many of them do, and many of them win. It is my hope that these young women putting their names on the ballot for student elections will not stop there and that they will fill the pipeline to higher office.
But last week reminded me of the cost associated with running for office, especially if you are a woman of color. On the day that Dumpson was sworn in as president, nooses with bananas hung on them appeared around the American University campus, with the letters of her predominately black sorority, AKA, carved into them. Dumpson also became the target of a white supremacist who urged his followers to harass her and threatened violence against her. As Dumpson said: “[A]s the first African American female president, I am appalled; as a student second, I am outraged; as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, I am nauseated; and as a target, I am numb by the vile act that a member of our community decided to take during a historic moment for our campus.”
It’s hard enough to run for an elected position, at any level. And it is totally unacceptable that at the end of all this hard work, when you have finally won, you face a backlash because of who you are. As Higher Heights reports, black women face particular challenges in running…