This year’s election season proves again that voters are arguably embracing Black candidates and incumbents with ethnic names when it comes to their political picks for office.
In Atlanta’s mayoral race, candidate Keisha Bottoms, who forced a run-off election Tuesday against Mary Norwood, seemingly has an edge with taxpayers who love her name and the fact that she is a Black woman.
“Just having a mayor whose name isn’t the standard name you would find on a coffee mug. I don’t know what could be better!” voter Diamond Harris said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “It’s kind of like when (Barack) Obama became president.”
The possibility of having a “Mayor Keisha” is uniting many women like Harris, who will cast their ballots a Dec. 5 runoff election.
Bottoms’ “#IStandWithKeisha” campaign garnered support from many Black women across the nation and even famous females including LaLa Anthony and Tameka “Tiny” Harris. Voters identified their most pressing issues using the hashtag in an initiative that highlighted the power of solidarity.
Among politicians who also won a chorus of praise is 2020 presidential candidate favorite and Senator Kamala Harris (D-California,) who broke down the color barrier in spite of a demeaning pattern that ostracized Black politicians for unique names. Former president Barack Obama highlighted that history when he referred to himself as the “skinny guy with the funny name” during his campaign.
Several of these politicians of color, past and present, have won a seat at the table with their cultural names despite racism that demonizes Black job seekers and prospective college students for afrocentric names. Why, specifically?
It seems that candidates are unapologetically proud of their names.
“By asserting their identity and using their given names, they’re asking people to take them as they are,” said Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie to the Associated Press. “In a city like Atlanta, with a large African-American population and a long history of African-American leadership, that’s just not a liability.”
A history of animus shadowing Afrocentric names, pointed out by this UCLA study shared by The Huffington Post, arguably weighs less heavily on voters at the ballot box. Seemingly, the traditions that led Black people to bestow culturally significant names on their children during the 1970s “Black is Beautiful” movements are still appreciated today.