The Global Cornor

Playing the representation game

Catie Gelting, Features Editor

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Ginsburg, once famously said that, “there will not be enough women on the Supreme Court until there are nine.” Some, blinded by misogyny and their own lack of understanding, were shocked at such a bold statement, leading Ginsburg to later explain herself. Her statement wasn’t meant to suggest that women should replace men but rather to point out the blatantly obvious inequalities between the reactions to a supreme court of nine men versus that of one with nine women. However, this does bring up the issue of representation.

At the end of each election, I tend to feel bombarded with articles praising the election of a minority as a “step in the right direction,” which is a statement entirely without fault. Yet, it always seems to leave me stewing. As proud as I am with our baby steps toward fair representation, I am equally annoyed at how small each of these steps seems to be. According to the 2010 US census, 50.8% of Americans are female, and yet only three of our nine supreme court justices are female. That’s about 33% and nowhere close to accurately representing the gender makeup of our country. Furthermore, out of our 100 senators, only 21 are female, and that’s just in the gender department. When I look at the racial and sexual makeup of our government, I become even more disappointed. About 12.6% of Americans self identify as black, and yet only about 3% of our Senate identifies similarly. About 16.3% of Americans identify as Hispanic or Latino, but only about 4% of our Congress is represented by this demographic. It’s still difficult to find the percentage of Americans who identify as a part of the LGBTQ community, but various polls currently estimate it to be about 4%, and yet there has only been one senator who openly identified lesbian when elected.

I find it difficult to believe that minority groups are accurately represented in Congress when I see statistics like these. I can’t imagine how a Congress dominated by a specific group could possibly represent a country that is defined by its diversity.

None of this is in any way meant to downplay the significance of Kamala Harris’s election to office. Harris’s contribution to Congress will be historical, and her importance stems from her representation as a woman of mixed African-American and Indian heritage, in fact, as the first Indian woman to serve in Congress, providing one of America’s many minority groups representation. Among the articles over the elections, I swell with pride. Headlines such as “Harris wins based on merit” give me hope for the direction of race relations in America.