Panel: Female minority candidates face more obstacles

October 29, 2017

Detroit — Women of color who want to run for political office face a series of obstacles other candidates may not, sometimes even within their own parties, said a panel of local lawmakers and political candidates at the Women’s Convention on Sunday.

“What we’re trying to do is change the face of power, change the face of leadership,” said Fayrouz Saad, a candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District.

Saad was part of a panel, “Running as Women of Color: Our Personal Stories,” one of several workshops at the three-day convention which has drawn roughly 5,000 women from all over the world to Cobo Center. The convention, which ends Sunday, is a follow-up to the historic Women’s March in March in January.

Saad said women have an ability to see issues from multiple ways and their viewpoint is especially needed at the federal level. The recent health care debate was a good example of why more women are needed in office.

“We need diverse representation in our elected leadership especially at the federal level because they’re making decisions that affect all of us,” she said.

Sommer Foster, the first African American woman elected to the Canton Township Board of Trustees, remembers a man who once told her she could have a future in politics with a “little training.” She said that wouldn’t have been said to a white man. She encouraged future women of color who want to run for office “to be authentic.”

A’Shanti Gholar said one of the challenges is changing what the face of power looks like. She recalled a conversation she said with a man of color who was a Lyft driver before November’s presidential election who planned to vote for Donald Trump. She asked why.

“To him (the driver), that’s what power looks like,” Gholar said.


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