One relevant topic I learned about and became interested in at Brandeis after taking “Polling the American Public” was about gender inequality in relation to politics. Our class discussions about gender inequality emphasized the need for more women in politics. As a young black woman, I noticed there weren’t enough people who looked like me in office and political positions of power. Through this I was also able to think about other groups of people that were left out or not recognized as much when it came to politics. Politics to me is a discussion and distribution of resources that can shift depending on the power dynamics in place. Though it involves a system of elected officials and leaders, power is distributed, and the leader’s background can significantly influence the way decisions are made for members of a given community.
July marks Disability Pride Month, and similar to my inside and out-of-class experiences that explored groups of people that were not always given the spotlight they deserved inside of politics, I decided to look into elected officials, leaders, and activists who were disabled and identified with Pride and were still having to navigate these identities when engaging with politics.
Bringing this month and its purpose into perspective influenced my focus on the necessity of different perspectives. These perspectives aren’t always seen as the norm in politics, and it’s important that they are brought to light inside of the political realm and the greater society as a whole. By doing this work, I was allowed to see political leaders who I had never encountered and the great work they were doing in and outside of the communities they lived in. I was also able to participate in activities such as word searches, speaker seminars, discussions, and deconstructing the norm of what politics is and the possibility of what it can become.
This internship experience and the work we are engaging with this summer will help me to determine future career possibilities as a young woman of color interested in politics. Through the speaker seminars and interviews with women, disabled individuals, and people who identify with Pride inside of the internship, I am broadening my horizons into the different realms and depths of politics.
Overall, this informs my approach to my internship and the work we are engaging with over the course of the summer. Outside of my time here, I am intrigued and feel encouraged to engage with all kinds of people inside of politics. This is important to me because I am a person who values diversity and accepting people of all backgrounds and the differences they come with. This experience encourages me to dive deeper into a career in this realm, since I will be exploring the inequalities inside of politics in terms of different forms of representation and challenging the old, outdated, and original norms and expectations that come with holding office and being seen as a leader inside of your community. This demonstrates that leadership comes in a variety of forms and is not a monolith.