During this dismal election, women of color quietly made history in the Senate.
Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.
The pundits didn't see it coming. The polls were all wrong. And many of us — particularly the groups our new president-elect has targeted throughout much of his campaign — feel like we've woken up in a country that no longer wants us. A country we no longer recognize.
This is scary.
Even though today is a tough day, I know I'm finding comfort in remembering that history was made last night in a different but still good way.
The 115th Congress will have a record-high 21 female senators in it next year, including more women of color than ever before.
This session, 20 of the 100 senators are women. Although an increase by one is admittedly not a huge jump, we'll still have the most women ever in the U.S. Senate next year.
Meanwhile, the number of women of color in the Senate quadrupled.
Catherine Cortez Masto beat Joe Heck in Nevada to become the very first Latina elected to the Senate.
She'll be taking the seat of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who is retiring.
“It should have happened a long time ago,” she told Fusion in September of the possibility of making history.
She has no plans to put a progressive agenda on hold because of a President Trump.
“I’ll be one hell of a checks and balances on him,” she told a crowd after the election. “Tonight, we start our fight together.”
Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee veteran of the Iraq War who was born in Thailand, cruised to victory over incumbent Mark Kirk in Illinois.
"The military gave me leadership skills," she once told the Asian American Policy Review. "It taught me to stand up and express myself. It taught me, then, to defend what I think is the best solution."
Plenty of people around the country were rooting especially hard for Duckworth after her opponent made a racist jab at her family during a debate last month.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris held on to her sizable lead and will soon become America's first female biracial senator.
"All of the most substantial movements in this country started with or have been championed by students," she told Lenny last year. "I feel strongly we want to encourage student voice and take it seriously."
These trailblazers will be joining the ranks of other senators who've made history in Washington recently — women like Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator, and Mazie Hirono, the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the upper chamber, in 2012.
These women and so many others reflect a Senate that's (slowly but surely) looking more and more like the American electorate.
We've got a long way to go, especially with Donald Trump poised to be the 45th president of the United States. But the changing faces of our leaders mean more and more groups and communities — women, racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, and so many others — have someone fighting for them in the halls of Congress. Representation matters because without their say in Washington, it's easy for the voices of these groups — their concerns, their challenges, their dreams — to go unheard.
Particularly in the years ahead, under a president who ran his campaign on divisiveness and scapegoating, it's more critical now than ever before that we hear these voices and make room for them at the table.