How we get more women of color elected: “We really don’t want allies. We want accomplices.”

  • Jan 26, 2020
  • Lauren Schiller
  • Salon

From an early age, A’shanti Gholar noticed the lack of women politicians who looked like her and the lack of public officials who truly understood the issues that had an impact on her community.

She now works to fill this void by serving as Political Director for Emerge America, a national organization devoted to getting more Democratic women into office, and by creating The Brown Girls Guide to Politics, a site that helps women of color run for politics.

It all started when Gholar was surfing TV channels with her mom.

“I discovered C-SPAN,” she told me in our “Inflection Point” podcast interview. “And I saw all these people arguing and fighting over making our country better.”

But she noticed that it was hard to find people who looked like her – female and Black – fighting for a better nation on her favorite TV channel.

It was in a high school government class that Gholar got interested in politics as a career. Her teacher had invited a few local candidates running for the state senate to speak.

“I asked a candidate why he voted against raising the minimum wage,” she said.

It was an issue that was important to her. She had friends who worked minimum wage, part-time jobs to bring extra money home to their families.

So she was taken by surprise when the candidate lied to her face.

“He said he didn’t,” Gholar said. “I said ‘yes, you did. I can look up your votes.'”

The candidate, a state senator, continued to argue with A’shanti, a high school student, in front of the class. Later, he contacted her teacher.