The First Black Everything

Kamala Harris is the first Black person to serve as Vice President of the United States.

Raphael Warnock is Georgia's first Black U.S. Senator, securing a seat desperately needed to flip the senate for Democrats.

Lloyd Austin is Biden’s nominee to be the first Black Defense Secretary.

Michael Regan is Biden’s nominee to be the first Black head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Across the United States government, we are seeing the first Black people hold many vital positions. This is a stark contrast from Trump’s cabinet, which had a white male majority, one Black person, and no Hispanic people whatsoever.

As a kid, it was always strange for me to hear when someone was the “first Black…” fill in the blank. I remember watching the 2012 Summer Olympics when swimmer Simone Manuel became the first Black woman to win an individual swimming medal at the games. It felt ridiculous that after being in this country for hundreds of years, being the backbone in which the United States depended on to thrive, that there were still feats the Black community was only just now able to reach.

The systems of this country are so precisely set against us, there are firsts we are still barred from reaching.

Yet I fear that as each first is reached, there will not be a second.

I think of Barack Obama’s presidency, the anticipation around his campaign, the voting lines that went on for miles as the Black community rallied around him, our symbol of hope. We came together in a way like never before, and I worry we will be unable to again.

I fear white people in power will feel less obligated towards fostering diverse spaces.

The number of times I’ve heard white people say racism no longer exists because Obama was president is astounding. They don’t see racism as a deeply rooted systemic issue, but a surface level problem that can be solved with the singular appointing of just a few more people of color.

I don’t mean to discount the importance of these POC pioneering such segregated fields. Each and every one of their achievements is greatly important. I just hope there will come a time where there are no more firsts, because we have achieved them all.

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