Black Women Legislators Are Rare in Statehouses. This Could Be the Solution.

Brian Skinner State Government

Capitol

Route Fifty — By Barbara Rodriguez — September 

In late May, Mona Das watched as protests unfolded in Minneapolis over the killing of George Floyd.

A senator in Washington state, Das felt like she needed to do something to address the systemic racism that had created conditions for a white police officer to kneel onto the neck of Floyd, a Black man, for more than eight minutes.

“I was sitting on the couch thinking, ‘What can I do?’” she recalled.

Das observed people on her social media feed raising matching funds to help arrested protesters with bail money. As she witnessed the collective power of people opening their wallets to respond to the moment, Das thought about how that might help candidates of color—specifically, she knew of several Black women running for the Washington statehouse—and how that could shift political power and who gets to wield it. Oftentimes, at her state Capitol and elsewhere, it has been white men.

“The only thing that’s going to make a difference is policy change,” Das, a Democrat, said. “And the only people who are going to make a difference in policy are elected officials.”

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