“Bitches,” They Get Stuff Done; Proving The Resilience Of The Sisterhood


As we eagerly await with white knuckles for all votes to be counted, the uncertain outcome of the U.S. election has created a global sentiment of anxiety. However, Tuesday’s election was not just the ‘Thunderdome-Esque’ battle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. During the 2018 midterm elections, a small cluster of congressional candidates—all first-time contenders and women of colour—ushered in the “Blue Progressive Wave,” as they were elected to Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), have consistently been subject to cases of extreme racist, sexist and xenophobic attacks, emboldened by the current administration.

Earlier this year, we saw this play out with the profoundly misogynistic comments spoken by a Republican congressman, Ted Yoho. After an intense exchange, the Florida congressman referred to Ocasio-Cortez as a “fucking bitch.” Taking ownership of the pejorative term, “The Squad” or “AOC plus 3” have proved to their supporters and constituents that their legacy and its successes are not limited to one term. All four women have emerged victorious in their respective House re-elections. It is no wonder that none of the women faced significant challenges in their re-election campaigns. Their continual presence amid the white faces that largely dominate congressional positions signposts the firsts of many kinds.

Though little was known about Ocasio-Cortez before 2018, she has established herself as a household name who gained the accolade as the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. Pressley, who revealed her personal challenges with facing an alopecia diagnosis, became Massachusetts’s first Black woman to be elected. Like Pressley, Omar became the first woman of colour to represent Minnesota, and Tlaib’s Palestinian heritage saw her represent Michigan in Congress. Where anti-Islamic rhetoric has defined the last four years of Trump’s narratives of Muslims as criminal bodies, both Omar and Tlaib share the title as the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Both congresswomen are unashamed about their religious commitments to their Islamic faith, despite the constant attacks that seek to undermine the ‘Americanness’ of their characters.

Together, all four women of colour have championed ambitious legislature aimed at fostering equitable and justice-orientated action towards issues such as climate change, education, police brutality and reformation, systemic racism, universal healthcare, and other progressive causes. Each Squad member celebrated their winning outcome, with Omar tweeting a photo of The Squad captioned, “Our sisterhood is resilient.” It is because of this resilient, progressive, and unapologetic platform—rooted and centered in achieving racial and economic justice—that saw more historic wins for Americans from Tuesday’s result.

While votes are still being counted across many states in the U.S., we can celebrate the reported victories of Black Lives Matter activist, Cori Bush in Missouri; Sarah McBride of Delaware as the first transgender state senator; Mondaire Jones who stands as the first openly gay Black member elected to Congress; Ritchie Torres acts as another first for the LGBTQI+ community as the first gay Afro-Latino man; and Kaiali’i Kahele from Hawaii who is increasing Indigenous representation in Congress. Adding to this list of Democratic successes, Stephanie Byers from Wichita became the first trans person of Native American heritage to be elected. As well as Mauree Turner who is now, the first non-binary state legislator in U.S. history and first Muslim lawmaker in Oklahoma. There will be, undoubtedly, more celebrations to come once all votes have been accounted for.

At the time of writing this article, it is still not known who has emerged victorious from the battlegrounds of the 46th presidential elections. However, there is always cause for celebration. We should not ignore the monumental achievements of those non-binary, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, who have been awarded the privilege of representing their people and the interests of their elected districts. The fact Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Omar, and Tlaib have not only retained their positions of power but have, additionally, used this platform to motivate and enact an intersectional diversity across the Democratic party, signposts a silver lining in this uncertain time. This negates any alternative argument that their successes were based on fleeting notions of popularity, or that their strong voices do not have a place within America.

The recent successes of The Squad serve as a reminder for those of us who feel disempowered, who are reduced to racial stereotypes, labelled as ‘problematic,’ or perhaps derogatorily referred to as a ‘bitch’ or terms alike: your efforts are not in vain; continue to strive for equitable representation, centered in achieving social justice for all.