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Today, history was made in the United States, and I hope every single one of you remembers this moment. I was at a workout this morning, where people started celebrating at the gym. Sen. 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 election was so much more than just picking between Democratic and Republican parties. After four years of the Trump administration, it became clear that many minorities and women were battling for their human rights with their vote. These groups historically are often ignored, underrepresented and a product of a system that fails them over and over again.
I can’t speak on how meaningful this is for women, the Black community or even most Americans (as I’m a Canadian), but I can only imagine what many of you are feeling. What I can say is that this is incredibly important to me. As a son of immigrants and a person of Indian descent, I can’t help but look on with excitement.
Shyamala Gopalan, Kamala’s mother, was born in Chennai, India and immigrated to the U.S. to attend the University of California—Berkeley to become a breast cancer researcher. She died of breast cancer in 2009. That alone tears me up inside.
My mother, who passed away this month from cancer, had done the exact same thing. She moved from India to North America to make that better life for her family. She taught me to take pride in our Indian culture, and to not be ashamed. That’s easier said than done when you’re an 11-year old kid trying to play ball hockey and kids are shouting “Osama” at you.
My mom taught me to live life with integrity, be honest and to find ways to be resilient. These are the same characteristics that I see in Kamala Harris as she gets ready to enter the White House. Just like my mom, Kamala’s mother instilled those same values in her: to take pride in your culture, live life honestly and to find ways to uplift your community to help inspire those around you.
Growing up, I’ve never seen a person in the highest office of politics coming from an Indian background. I’ve mainly seen stereotyped characters like Apu from The Simpsons or Raj from The Big Bang Theory, but never anything in a leadership role like this. 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 that looks like them. They can aspire to greatness, just like Kamala did, despite the systemic societal challenges that many of them still face.
As a marketer of color, this is just as special. We’re often underrepresented in boardrooms, meetings and decision-making roles, and to see someone like Kamala take on this new challenge should inspire us all. It tells me that despite being one of the only BIPOC professionals in that meeting, I’m unknowingly setting the stage for many others to join.
It’s telling young minorities and young girls that this is your story to shape, not someone else’s. Don’t ever stop dreaming big, because this is possible. No matter your ambition, there’s a stage waiting for you.
In regards to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taking office, the work starts now in bringing forward change, equality and justice for every person in the United States. It’s a long road ahead, but you can’t help but be excited about what’s next. This was a battle for hope that was won today, especially for many of those who might never have had it.