Vice President-elect Kamala Harris seen as inspiration to women, other groups

HOUSTON – People on both sides of the aisle are celebrating the historic significance of what this election outcome means for women.

Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black and first South Asian person to become vice president of the United States.

Vice President-elect Harris has inspired women to dream and attain it with her historic election win.

“She just brings this whole new optic. I think it’s just inspiring. I think it’s cool,” said Lilian Care, a member of the Houston Women’s Group.

Care is also biracial, Chinese and European. She said she’s surprised it took so long for women to reach such a high office in the executive branch. But Care said she’s happy it happened the same year America celebrated the 100th-anniversary women received the right to vote.

“I don’t live in a world where women are not as capable as men,” she said. “Maybe for those who ever had a perception that women couldn’t fulfill certain duties, maybe this will help them rethink that perception.”

Melissa Betts, who is also a member of the Houston Women’s Group, said Vice President-elect Harris is blazing trails, though she didn’t do it alone.

“I think it’s powerful because it normalizes for these little girls they’re literally growing up in a world where the Madam VP-elect is a woman of color,” Betts said. "I think we have to realize the collective work of the women who came before Kamala have built for this moment.

Betts said it will be exciting to see what work Harris will get done while in office.

“I think it’s an also cautionary tale that we not get consumed with the optics of what she looks like but also what work she’s going to do. I think that’s what women have been essentially striving for is to be seen on the merits of their work," she said.

Elizabeth Gregory, a professor at the University of Houston with a focus on women, gender and sexuality, said though Harris is helping to redefine the roles of women in the workplace, it also comes at a time when women are being pushed out of the workforce.

“We’re in the middle of a ‘she-cession’ right now where a lot of women are being pushed out of work because of the pandemic because of the cuts in jobs but also because of the cuts in childcare,” Gregory said.

Harris' sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Black Greek-letter sorority founded at her alma mater Howard University in 1908, said they’re proud not just because she’s the first.

“But we’re also excited because Black young girls from around the county have someone to look to, to say if you continue to do your work and your continue to do it well you can achieve at all levels,” said Joya Hayes, the director of the South Central region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Kenneth Huewitt, president of Texas Southern University, said Harris' win also highlights the quality education you can get at historically black colleges and universities.

“I would say where can an HBCU degree take you? Basically anywhere you wanna go all the way to the White House,” Huewitt said.

He added that he hopes the national attention HBCU’s are receiving as a result of the vice president-elect will help boost enrollment.