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Impact of Inauguration Day felt beyond party & politics for Communities of Color

Biden Inauguration
Posted at 6:46 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 19:46:06-05

MILWAUKEE — With her left hand on two bibles, one from a close family friend, the other belonging to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Kamala Harris made history Wednesday, as the first female Vice President.

And the first African American Vice President.

And the first South Asian Vice President.

Not to mention, the first Vice President who is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; the oldest of the Divine Nine Black Sororities, established in 1908.

Inauguration Day is always filled with symbolism, but none bigger than this.

“MVP,” Isioma Nwabuzor said with a smile on her face. “Madam Vice President. It’s something your tongue has to get accustomed to but it feels so good. It is a symbol of all that is to come from this country and for women that look like her.”

Nwabuzor shares a number of things in common with Harris. As a local attorney, Nwabuzor has also passed the bar.

Attorney Isioma Nwabuzor, recognized as one of Milwaukee Business Journal's 40 under 40
Attorney Isioma Nwabuzor, recognized as one of Milwaukee Business Journal's 40 under 40

She’s also the daughter of immigrants; she and her parents came to the United States from Nigeria when she was just 18 months old.

According to Pew Research, as of 2018, 44.8 million people in the United States were immigrants, making up 13.7 percent of the nation’s total population. The number of immigrants living in the United States is projected to almost double by 2065. Having someone in the Executive Branch represent that is crucial to unity.

“Immigration is very instrumental to the American story,” Nwabuzor said. “For those immigrants who are coming over, those who want to build their dream here, you see the American dream come to fruition in Kamala Harris and so, just know that can be you. The road may be long and the road may be hard, but it is truly a new day and the opportunities are limitless for you.”

You’ll likely also find pictures of the two women with their pinkies up; celebrating the “first and finest Black Greek-letter sorority,” in Nwabuzor’s words, as members of AKA.

Isioma Nwabuzor, proud member of the AKA Sorority
Isioma Nwabuzor, proud member of the AKA Sorority

But, above all else, she too is a Black woman in America.

“You’ll often hear a phrase in Black communities, that say, you are our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” Nwabuzor said. “She is truly that.”

The Vice President may not have been an idol of hers growing up, but Nwabuzor says this is going to be a tremendous motivator for young girls of color.

“The possibilities for women of color and, even more specifically, Black women are now limitless,” Nwabuzor said. “Representation matters. You look at her and you see that the glass is shattering. While the history of this nation would have you believe that Black women and women of color reside at the lowest rung of society, well now we have a woman of color, a Black woman, in one of the most important and most powerful roles in the nation and in the world.”

That’s not to discount the impact this will have on the South Asian community as well.

“I think it really represents another huge step forward for the country,” Sachin Chheda, a Milwaukee Democratic Strategist said. “That symbolism is just absolutely critical. It’s a really meaningful moment for me for her to be Indian.”

Chheda has met Kamala Harris on multiple occasions; he is the former chair of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party. While his affinity for the Biden-Harris Administration is heavily influenced by partisan politics and Harris’ background, he says, that won’t give her a pass. He’s going to hold this administration accountable just like he has for everyone else.

Sachin Chheda with Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Tammy Baldwin
Sachin Chheda with Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Tammy Baldwin

“I would have voted for [Barack Obama] again in a heartbeat,” Chheda said. “But I didn’t always agree and you have to be able to stand up and our party is strong enough to be able to handle that kind of dissent. I lead protests against some of President Obama’s policies, including a surge in Afghanistan I thought was the wrong policy at the time. I wish he had done more to put cash in people’s hands, to bring public option to people. I wanted to see the end of the federal death penalty. I think there are a lot of things that we could have done better at. It doesn’t lessen my support of him and it won’t lessen my support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

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