History was made in the United States today, and I hope each and every one of you will remember this moment. I went to workout this morning and started partying at the gym. Senator Kamala Devi Harris just became the first female Vice President, the first Black Vice President, and the first Indian Vice President in American history. This is a special moment.
Let’s be real for a second. This choice was so much more than just a choice between Democratic and Republican parties. After four years of Trump administration, it became clear that many minorities and women were fighting for their human rights with their voice. Historically, these groups are often ignored, underrepresented and a product of a system that keeps failing them.
I can’t talk about how important this is to women, the black community, or even most Americans (since I’m Canadian), but I can only imagine how many of you are feeling. What I can say is that this is incredibly important to me. As the son of immigrants of Indian descent, I can’t help but watch excitedly.
Shyamala Gopalan, Kamala’s mother, was born in Chennai, India and immigrated to the United States to become a breast cancer researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. She died of breast cancer in 2009. That alone tears me apart.
My mother, who died of cancer this month, had done exactly the same. She moved to North America from India to help her family have a better life. She taught me to be proud of our Indian culture and not to be ashamed. This is easier said than done when you are an 11 year old trying to play ball hockey and kids are yelling “Osama” at you.
My mother taught me to live a life of integrity, to be honest, and to find ways to be resilient. These are the same traits I see in Kamala Harris as she prepares to enter the White House. Just like my mother, Kamala’s mother taught her the same values: being proud of your culture, living an honest life, and finding ways to uplift your community to inspire those around you.
Growing up I have never seen anyone in the highest office of politics with an Indian background. I’ve mostly seen stereotypical characters like Apu from The Simpsons or Raj from How I Met Your Mother, but never seen anything in such a leadership role. With that in mind, the first thing I felt this morning was the excitement of knowing that young minorities and young women growing up can see a leader who looks like them. They can strive for greatness, just like Kamala, despite the systemic societal challenges many of them still face.
As a color marketer, this is also special. We are often under-represented in boardrooms, meetings and decision-making positions, and seeing someone like Kamala take on this new challenge should inspire us all. It tells me that while I am one of the few BIPOC experts in this meeting, I am unwittingly setting the stage for many others.
It tells young minorities and young girls that this is your story to create, not someone else’s. Never stop dreaming big because it is possible. Regardless of your ambition, a stage is waiting for you.
In relation to the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the work begins to drive change, equality and justice for (everyone) in the United States. It’s a long road, but you can’t help but be excited to see what’s next. This was a battle for hope won today, especially for many of those who may never have had it.