At the recent She the People summit in San Francisco, hundreds of women clapped and cheered as the organization’s founder, Aimee Allison, ran through a list of women of color who she said are bringing excitement to the 2018 elections.
“It’s Stacey Abrams, who will be the first black woman governor in history, (in) Georgia," Allison said. "It’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who beat a 10-term Democrat in New York." The list went on.
Summit organizers billed the event as the first-ever gathering for women of color in politics. Allison said women of color are often among the most progressive in the country, yet are the least represented in office.
“Democracy was not built for us," she said. "But women of color for centuries have been part of expanding the definition of who matters and whose voice matters and how democracy functions.”
Yet, despite the work they do, Allison said women of color still have difficulty getting through primaries and being elected to office.
Tracie Stafford is running for Mayor of Elk Grove, near Sacramento. She said some people have negative perceptions about her just because she’s a black woman.
“I'm going to be difficult, that I am somehow not articulate or not intelligent," Stafford said. "And that's the worst when someone tells me, 'you are so intelligent.' They don't understand that that means the assumption was I wasn't. So not only is it painful, but it's insulting.”
Stafford said she’s faced racist attacks online and in person. The experience has been stressful and exhausting. But she said she feels called to run and to help her city grow.