Power of Representation

In the current climate we live in, I find myself having political conversations all the time. The recent conversations revolve around representation. I am lucky that I live in Massachusetts where the politics is reliably liberal. However, just because the politics are progressive does not mean we still don’t disagree. 

I found myself having a conversation about knowing your elected representative the other day with a lovely white couple. Yes, this conversation involved race. You see, at some point, we started talking about the Capuano/Pressley race for US House of Representatives. For those who don’t know, Mike Capuano is the incumbent Democrat Rep for Massachusetts Congressional District 7. He has held that seat for five years. He is a reliably progressive voice. By all metrics that we use to judge our representative, Capuano has not failed a single test. Oh! And Capuano is a white man.Capuano is being challenged by Ayanna Pressley. Ms. Pressley is an African American woman who serves on the Boston City Council.

When I was having this conversation with the couple, they were like but the positions are identical, and Capuano has seniority. That is a valid argument. But, my view on the Capuano/Pressley comes down to the power of representation. There is power in being represented by someone who can authentically speak to your life experience. Capuano might have a progressive voting record but he certainly does not understand what it means to be a minority living in Boston.

Representation: There is power in being represented by someone who can authentically speak to your life experience

I am not going to go into the trial and tribulations of being black in Boston, but it is a lot. It is an experience that only can be understood once you have lived it. Pressley, as an African American woman living in Boston, represents something that Capuano never will. Given how infrequently Black female candidates get the momentum needed to take them into office, I like to champion viable options like Pressley.

Alas, as I researched my primary ballot, I realized that I am not eligible to vote for Pressley because I don’t live in her congressional district. It was also glaring clear looking at my ballot that diversity is still a huge issue for the Massachussetts delegation. My ballot is overwhelming male speckled with some color.

I really don’t feel like I can complain about being under represented on the ballot. I know that until people like me, an ordinary everyday citizen, begin to participate in politics, we can’t complain. If I want my experiences to be seen and heard, then I have to step up and speak. 

I’ll be voting on September 4th 2018 during the Massachusetts Primary Election. General Elections are scheduled for Tuesday, November 6th 2018.