Last week, I had the opportunity to join other LCV women and travel to Houston to attend the history-making She the People presidential forum — it was the FIRST presidential candidate forum centered on and for women of color.
My journey began at the Baltimore airport for a 6 AM flight with my co-workers Darien and Julie. Our excitement to get to She the People energized us through the early morning wake up and our three hour flight to Houston. Once we landed, we headed straight to Texas Southern University where the She the People forum was being hosted.
The term “women of color” was coined at the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, which made She the People’s location at Texas Southern University (TSU) — a historically black university — all the more symbolic.
As soon as we arrived at TSU, we quickly reunited with the rest of the LCV team. All together, we had Darien, Julie, and Brooke from our national team; Kati, a senior organizer from Chispa Nevada; Areli and Mayli from Climate Action Nevada; and Hayley and Emma from Climate Action New Hampshire. I was honored to be attending the forum with such an amazing team of women.
Once we made it into the auditorium, we waited, listened, and watched as eight presidential candidates — including Senator Booker, Former Secretary Castro, Representative Gabbard, Senator Harris, Senator Klobuchar, Former Representative O’Rouke, Senator Sanders, and Senator Warren — responded to questions that reflected our values, experiences, and the issues we care about.
As a young Indian-American woman passionate about the urgent need to solve the climate crisis, I was especially interested to hear the presidential hopefuls share how their plans to act on climate change would be centered on racial, social, and economic justice. That’s why I was excited when the very first question of the forum, asked to Senator Cory Booker, was about his plans to address climate and environmental justice.
Senator Bernie Sanders also underscored the need to take on the fossil fuel industry in order to equitably solve climate change.
One of the most powerful aspects of the forum though was the way it amplified the voices of women of color. We held the candidates to high standards, and expected real, thoughtful answers that spoke to the heart of the unique reality people of color experience in America — a reality that is often much more dangerous than white counterparts.
Attending She the People was my first time being in an audience filled with inspiring and engaged women who looked like me — feeling represented and a part of this community filled me with hope and excitement. The fact that every candidates’ time during the forum ended with either the question “Why should women of color vote for you” or “why are you the best candidate for women of color” — really centered the conversation on me. As the primary continues, I can’t wait to hear from more candidates about how they’ll consider the needs of women of color and plan to equitably act on climate change.
That’s exactly what LCV is pushing for as part of our Change The Climate 2020 campaign. The 2020 election is our last best chance to change the course of the climate crisis, but we can’t solve this crisis without putting the people most impacted by pollution and climate change — especially women of color — at the center.