After reading last week’s article, “Wellesley for white women: divisive ways students engage with American politics,” I took issue with the article implying that Elizabeth Warren’s supporters at Wellesley College want to see “gendered victory rather than social justice” and primarily support Sen. Warren because she is a white woman. As a woman of color in Wellesley for Warren, I have seen firsthand how this is not the case. We all have different reasons for why we vote the way we do.
When I was twelve, my dad and I held signs for Elizabeth Warren in Davis Square, hoping she would win against the Republican incumbent. Watching her win alongside Obama on Election Night in 2012 gave me hope. I looked up to her throughout middle school, doing a book report on her book “A Fighting Chance” when it came out. My 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Packer, told me she didn’t want Warren running for president because Warren was too great a Senator to lose to the presidency. I didn’t believe that then, and while I felt pride voting for Warren as my Senator last November, I don’t believe that now.
I wasn’t sure who to vote for in the early stages of this primary. All I was sure about was that I didn’t see the “great economy” everyone was talking about post-recession. Instead, I see workers getting paid abysmal wages that cannot sustain one person, let alone a family. I see student debt paralyzing young Americans and their families. I see predatory lenders, private equity and big banks swindling our country. A President Elizabeth Warren might not be able to solve these problems on her own, but I do trust her to prioritize them. That is why I am in Wellesley for Warren, and that is why I am voting for Elizabeth Warren in 2020.
None of this is to say Warren hasn’t made mistakes. The DNA test was wrong and there is no getting around it. But she has apologized, has rolled out a massive plan to address the needs of Native Americans, and has won the endorsement of Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women in Congress. Contrary to the claims in the previous article, Wellesley for Warren has addressed this issue on both Instagram and twitter.
Regarding this matter, Kisha James, president of Wellesley’s Native American Student Association, stated: “While I agree with the authors of the article that the Elizabeth Warren D.N.A. situation was unfortunate and problematic, I find the fact that the authors did not reach out to the Native Americans on campus and instead decided to speak for us problematic as well. Us Native Americans on campus have made our views known on the D.N.A. debacle, and our views and words should not be weaponized to tear down siblings on campus. You do not have to support Warren if you do not want to, but I believe that you can support a candidate and still criticize them, and Wellesley for Warren is not doing anything wrong by supporting Warren.”
Not only is the Wellesley for Warren editorial board primarily composed of students of color, the group is actively inclusive to people of differing identities. Many of us have different political views and reasons we are voting for Warren. Some of our members are still undecided. Our club president, Lucy Carlson-Krakoff, has even offered to help others start up groups to support their preferred candidates in the Democratic presidential primary. Just like Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have improved the primary process with their ideas, groups supporting them on campus would improve Wellesley with their perspectives and Wellesley for Warren welcomes such potential orgs.
However, to assume that people of color would automatically support candidates of color belittles our intelligence and promulgates the false yet pervasive idea that we vote in a racial-identity monolith. Many students of color and trans students in Wellesley for Warren said they felt “erased” or “written over,” and while we are glad the factual inaccuracies in the original article have been corrected online, it was hurtful to see the stereotype of Wellesley being a “white woman’s campus” prevail despite people of color and trans visibility in the organization and the work those students have done to enact change. We do not appreciate being spoken for.
In that spirit, I will only speak for myself. I am South Asian-American. I have faith in the American political system. More importantly, I have faith in the American people. I am involved in politics because I believe that after love and after hope, structural change is the best way to improve the country I love. Make no mistake: I am voting for Elizabeth Warren because she has embodied an “active pursuit of social and governmental justice” throughout her career and because I have faith that she will continue to do so as President of the United States.