Women of color (WOCs) and allies gathered in Manhattan on Tuesday night to celebrate the launch of a new political organization committed to electing more WOCs to public office.
Women of Color for Progress (WCP) aims to empower women of color “to excel, lead, represent, and be heard” as well as work towards a more transparent political system oriented towards progressive human rights.
Around 100 New Yorkers gathered at Hotel Chantelle in the Lower East Side to learn about the organization and hear speeches from some of the ten co-founders.
“We know all too well the frustration of politicians and people who create policies that don’t keep our communities in mind…We feel it first hand, the frustration of seeing politicians that don’t reflect our faces and certainly don’t reflect our values,” said Cristina Gonzalez, WCP co-founder, introducing the organization.
“We’ve heard: ‘just play by the rules’. The problem is those rules were never built for us and some of those rules were built specifically to keep us out. It is our mission to change those rules from within to include us, all of us, to change what it means to be a leader and what a leader actually looks like. To empower people to create a political system that is transparent and holds our political leaders accountable so we are empowered to speak up and represent and be heard,” she added.
Co-founders Radhe Patel and Chand Nirankari also shared shocking statistics on how poorly represented women of color are in elected office. Currently only 7.1% of Congress are WOCs, despite making up roughly 38% of the total female US population, and there are just four sitting WOC governors in the US.
Even in New York, one of the most racially diverse states in the country, just 22% of City Council members are WOCs. However, these serving women council members pass more bills through the council than any other demographic, said Nirankari.
“When WOCs have the opportunity they get to work, and that’s why we need more us in government, in the system, because when we get that opportunity we pass legislation and that legislation works for everyone not just WOCs,” she explained.
The launch event kicks off WCP’s first ‘Week of Action’, which includes a panel discussion on Thursday March 23 entitled: “A Long Way to Go: a conversation on the hurdles women of color face when running for political office,” and a series of ‘Get Political @ Home’ informational house parties, located throughout the five boroughs on Friday, March 24.
The founding members of WCP are: Aliya Allen, Amanda Farias, Carlina Rivera, Chand Nirankari, Cristina Gonzalez, Haili Copas-Starke, Jasmine Fernandez, Karen Coronel, Princess Manuel, and Radhe Patel.
Photo Credit: Women of Color for Progress