Congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are the new congresswomen who are known as “the Squad” on Capitol Hill. They are the face of diversity, acceptance, and equality. Above all else, though, they are highly qualified, intelligent, strong minded, and ass-kicking politicians. That’s what they were elected to do. The squad has already started off with a big bang by setting new milestones in the history of Capitol Hill. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim-Americans to serve in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and Ayanna Pressley is the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston City Council (Abramson, 2019; Relman & Ma, 2018; DeCosta-Klipa, 2018). In only a short period of time, people know their names and they listen to what they have to say. Despite their qualifications and devotion, they experience daily attacks, partly due to their politics, but mostly due to their ethnic backgrounds. Like never before, racism is loud and apparent in Capitol Hill.
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota rose from a refugee camp to Capitol Hill and, ever since, has been one of the current president’s top targets (Abramson, 2019). As one of the first two Muslim-American congresswomen, it’s not easy for Ilhan to just focus on her work because on a daily basis she has to defend bigoted assumptions about her beliefs (Flanagan, 2019). Rashida Tlaib of Michigan experienced similar issues as Omar, as she, too, is a Muslim-American. Recently, both Omar and Tlaib were banned by Israel’s government to enter the country, a decision that was backed by President Trump (2019) as he tweeted “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace” (Green, 2019; Trump, 2019). As Massachusetts first black woman in Congress, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts is no stranger to racism either. Like her other squad members, Pressley was a victim of many racist tweets . The youngest congresswoman ever elected, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, is probably the most targeted person by many politicians, including President Trump. For example, in September, Republicans ran a TV ad depicting picture of Ocasio-Cortez on fire (Schouten, 2019). Furthermore, the squad was also recently been told via twitter to go back to where they came from (Pengelly, 2019). As a result, the squad not only have to work harder than most on their policies but also on defending their beliefs, and assuring people that they are as much of an American as anyone else in the US.
Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), state that today blatant racism no longer exists. However, today’s events seem to contradict Schneider et al.’s (2012) statement. Blatant racism is an obvious act of racism such as segregation and clear differential treatment due to their skin color, and as stated above the squad did experience a clear differential treatment compared to their peers (Schneider et al., 2012). What people don’t realize is that having diverse congressmen and congresswomen in Capitol Hill could be beneficial for us, the people, as besides their academic qualifications they also have a built-in functional diversity (Schneider et al., 2012). With the squad’s built-in functional diversity, their diverse background and experiences can help increase the quality of decision making in the Capitol Hill (Schneider et al., 2012). Diversity definitely comes with challenges, as Schneider et al. (2012) point out that in a diverse group there’s a decrease in communication and social interaction. However, if people focus on their similarity rather than their differences, they may not even experience decreases in these areas. Instead, they may be even more creative and innovative, and perhaps can finally drain the swamp?
Abramson, A. (2019, July 18). How Ilhan Omar Rose From Refugee to Donald Trump’s Target. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://time.com/5628844/ilhan-omar-profile/.
DeCosta-Klipa, N. (2018, August 31). Everything you need to know about Ayanna Pressley. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2018/08/31/ayanna-pressley-massachusetts-primary.
Flanagan, C. (2019, August 26). Ilhan Omar’s Opportunity. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/where-ilhan-omar-failed/596743/.
Green, E. (2019, August 15). Trump Has Enabled Israel’s Antidemocratic Tendencies at Every Turn. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/israel-bans-omar-tlaib/596167/.
Pengelly, M. (2019, July 15). ‘Go back home’: Trump aims racist attack at Ocasio-Cortez and other congresswomen. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/14/trump-squad-tlaib-omar-pressley-ocasio-cortez.
Relman, E., & Ma, A. (2019, January 8). Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the millennial, socialist political novice who’s now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.businessinsider.com/all-about-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-who-beat-crowley-in-ny-dem-primary-2018-6.
Schneider, F.W., Gruman J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Schouten, F. (2019, September 14). Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams shocking ad that aired during Democratic debate. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/13/politics/aoc-criticizes-attack-ad/index.html.
Trump, D. [@realDonalTrump]. (2019, August 15). It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1162000480681287683?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1162000480681287683&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fpolitics%2Farchive%2F2019%2F08%2Fisrael-bans-omar-tlaib%2F596167%2F