A historic number of black women candidates ran for Alabama office.

In the first part of 2018, Alabama politics were getting a monumental shakeup — courtesy of black women.

At least 70 black women candidates launched electoral campaigns across Alabama for local, state, and national offices in 2018. It's a historic number in Alabama state politics.

Teri Sewell became the first black woman to represent Alabama in Congress in 2011. Now she supports other black woman candidates. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.


This parallels a national trend: There are 590 black women candidates across the United States in 2018 — the largest in history. And particularly in a state where black Americans make up over a quarter of the population but aren't nearly as visible in government positions — and with a history of racial tension and inequality — this representation is both powerful and necessary.

The numerous campaigns across the state reflect a changing Alabama, a welcome shift for many voters of color. Leading this huge change is a pool of black women candidates who are incredibly diverse in educational and political experience and ultimate goals for their constituents.

Arlene Easley, a lifelong Alabamian candidate with a business administration background, is running for the Alabama House. Easley, a child of the Jim Crow-era South, told Glamour she ran to represent people like her.

"I'm running for people like me, who go to work every day, who are raising their family, who want to see jobs, higher-quality education, better access to health insurance, and affordable living wages in Alabama," Easley said.

Other black women candidates, like Rep. Terri Sewell, aren't newcomers to politics.

Sewell made history in 2011 when she became the first black woman to represent Alabama in Congress. Now up for re-election, Sewell is hoping to continue working toward an inclusive political atmosphere that makes spaces for black women's voices.

"As a congressional intern during the late eighties, I remember walking the halls of the Capitol and not seeing many black women in any role, let alone as elected officials," Sewell told Glamour. "When I was first elected, making my voice heard as a black woman surrounded by older white men was a challenge. This year we’re proving the strength of our voice at the ballot box."

Terri Sewell has served in Congress since 2011. Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images.

Black women's presence flips the script in a state with a history of particularly rough racial relationships.

Home to numerous civil rights marches, a notorious lynching history, and a culture that still continues to perpetuate decades-old racism, Alabama has struggled to find ways to create a state that is truly equal for all. For decades, black women have been at the helm of activism and community engagement trying to create real and lasting change.

In spite of flawed stereotypes about the South and black Americans' willingness to vote, black women voters across the nation have helped candidates like Doug Jones, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Barack Obama get elected. This dedication to the right to vote and the hope for a better future for Americans of color has been central to their mission, and it continues today. It's something that black women candidates take into account, and according The Ohio State University associate professor and political scientist Wendy Smooth, the voters are counting on the candidates to take their concerns seriously.

"Alabama voters are looking and evaluating candidates in all of these races with an eye to which candidates can have the most positive impact on their communities," Smooth writes in an email. "While we (press, pundits, scholars) are making much of the numbers of Black women stepping forth as candidates, in the end its their messages, their policy positions that matter most to voters—as it should. Black women candidates want voters to understand the messaging of their campaigns; the issues they stand for; and what they seek to contribute to their communities and on behalf of their communities."

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

On June 5, Alabamians will head to the polls to make their decision on various candidates. As encouraging as this year's race demographics are, black women candidates have a battle ahead. Alabama is still a predominately Republican state, and most black women candidates are Democratic. As with many places in the United States, racism is still pervasive and often finds its way into both communities and government.

Regardless of the voter outcome across the state, this election is setting the stage for a new, different Alabama.

It also makes it clear that black women are fighting not only for better elected officials but for multiple seats at the table.

"The significance of the increase in Black women running this year is certainly important for highlighting their political activism that spans time," Smooth writes. "However, I am most interested in how this year’s midterm elections inspire women and Black women in particular to continue running for office; continue learning about public policy; and continue mobilizing their communities to participate in the electoral process. All of these actions enrich our democracy and increase the likelihood that more voices inform our decisions and practices. In essence, I’m thrilled by this attention to Black women this year and women overall, but I am driven to think ahead about how this attention sets expectations for even greater participation and inclusion in politics."

Black women have been on the frontlines of activism, politics, and community engagement. Their rise in politics is long overdue, and the Alabama primary sets the stage for a future that is more inclusive for all communities. It's about time.

More

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True