LOS ANGELES — California Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager was one of the politicians who made their voices heard during the summer protests for racial equality.
“I was protesting as a Black woman, as someone married to a Black man with Black children,” said Kamlager.
As a Black woman being present at those marches was important for her, just like it is important for her to be present as a Black woman in the state legislature for California’s 54th district.
So when she heard that Gov. Gavin Newsom had given Vice President-elect Harris’ senate seat to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, she felt that her community had lost something.
“Black women across the state and across the county were disappointed. . . Black women were especially disappointed because a Black woman was not chosen to replace a Black woman, and feel now, like the seat has been taken from them,” said Kamlager.
With the appointment of Padilla, the first Latino, it means that there will no longer be any Black women in the US senate.
“We no longer have the seat, and that is especially challenging when in the past few elections so much has been asked of and dependent upon Black women,” said Kamlager.
Vice President-elect Harris will be the president of the senate after inauguration. How much influence she’ll have over the Senate will depend on the Georgia Senate runoff races. But regardless of that, there will no longer be a constant Black female presence in the US Senate. As a member of the legislative Black caucus, Kamlager says this will have a big impact on a community that has been fighting to be seen and heard for centuries.
“Black women, who are already marginalized, are further pushed into the creases of this society. So it’s a significant step back for women, and a significant step back for Black women,” said Kamlager.
But there is a silver lining, with Padilla’s appointment, another African American woman, Dr. Shirley Weber, has been nominated as the first Black woman to be California’s Secretary of State. Her confirmation is dependent on the assembly and state senate.
“There are some bittersweet emotions … Shirley Weber is my seat mate, is my colleague in the assembly . . . And so, we are going to miss Dr. Weber, her voice was incredibly important and powerful for the caucus and to the legislature,” said Kamlager.
In the end she says, both Dr. Weber and Padilla will do exceptional work as statewide leaders.
“He is a man with outstanding qualifications, of high integrity and a very strong work ethic. This is a very important milestone for the Latino community. And politicians, elected officials, of all hues can represent all constituents. And so, I know the he will be a great senator and a great voice for California,” said Kamlager.
So, with this announcement in the rear view, she’ll now redirect her focus on the work ahead.