A Unique Perspective: Being a Black Female Millennial Running For Office

  • Oct 28, 2018
  • Elaissia Sears, Emerge Arizona '17

Growing up in Mesa, Arizona, I was often the only black face in my majority-white community (unless my sister was standing beside me.) Navigating my childhood and young adulthood as an “other” influenced much of the way I interacted with the world. My parents were barely newlyweds with a one-year-old when they decided to move from New Orleans, Louisiana to Arizona for economic opportunity. It’s the only home I’ve ever known and I’m so grateful that I get to share it with my family. Arizona is a great place to be, especially during such an exciting time.

To describe me as ambitious would be an understatement. At 24, I’ve already worked in several countries as a global professional (including an exchange to Germany through Congress), the Arizona House of Representatives, Phoenix City Hall, and more. My love for public service comes from my parents who have been incredible role models having spent their entire lives working in public administration. In fact, my mother ran for Mesa Public School board in 2016, the largest school board in Arizona, and won! Her victory showed me that if she could win with over 50,000 votes, I had an opportunity and obligation to serve my community as an elected official too. With this mission in mind, I signed up to receive training in how to run for office at Emerge Arizona. Standing up for what is right has always been second nature to me and I wanted to do everything I could do to succeed.

No matter where I go, I still am often the only person of color in the room but being a black female millennial running for office is a strength. My identity is not solely based on those traits, but it has everything to do with the lens I see the world through. I’ve had to work twice as hard to get half as far as my white counterparts. I’ve been told that politics is a man’s place and asked if I was really running because there’s no way this “girl” could be a candidate. Last, but certainly not least, the simple fact that I am 24 makes people assume I am unqualified. They’re dead wrong.

The amount of support that I have gotten is overwhelming. The best part about it is that there is no “typical” voter that will be supporting me for Justice of the Peace in November. My supporters are a diverse group that includes teachers, husbands, grandmothers, college students and so much more. They are real people who know we deserve better and are excited about a brighter future. Better yet, they appreciate that I am not more of the same: a white conservative male.

People are sick of partisan politics and are more interested in getting things done. This movement goes beyond Mesa and will reverberate throughout Arizona. To every young black woman out there: there is no limit! There is no litmus test for who can run for office. If you are passionate about an issue, get out there and make it happen. If I can do it, so can you. I believe in us.