Voting for the rights of women and people of colour: Semara Lumpkin
By Cindy Tran
Nov. 3, 2020
Semara Lumpkin says she hopes that voting Biden-Harris will mean safety for marginalized communities. Photo taken via Zoom by Cindy Tran.
On Juneteenth, Semara Lumpkin put up her independence flag to celebrate the emancipation of those who had been enslaved. To her shock, a neighbour came up to their door and demanded she remove her flag.
“People were like, ‘Well, why don’t you celebrate the Fourth of July?’ And I said, because the Fourth of July is not my Independence Day…and we still don’t have that full independence.”
Lumpkin, 47, is an African American woman living in Livonia, Mich. She is a stay-at-home mom to two children, the oldest of whom identifies as a transgender female. Lumpkin is also a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
In the upcoming U.S. election, Lumpkin will be voting for the Democrats in hopes that her vote will mean the continuation of fighting for the rights of women, people of colour and marginalized communities.
In a state where the governor recently declared racism a public health crisis, Lumpkin said the results of the election will determine the safety of her family’s future as people of colour, and the future of those who identify as minorities.
The results of the election will determine the safety of her family’s future as people of colour, and of those who identify as minorities. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared racism a public health crisis in August this year.
“I want my child to have the same opportunities as everyone else, with healthcare, with whatever it may be, with marriage and all of those things,” she said. “I’ve seen so much hatred towards that community just from the current U.S. president.”
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump named Michigan as one of his top surprising victories. Since the 1990s, Michigan has traditionally swung Democratic.
The 2016 election was a surprise for many, but voters appear to be moving back towards the Democratic Party this year. According to the CBC’s presidential poll tracker, Joe Biden is currently 8.6 percentage points ahead in Michigan.
Sara DiGilio casting her ballot for the U.S. election. Photo provided by Sara DiGilio.
Lumpkin runs a Facebook page called “Sisters of color strong for Biden” with the help of her friend Sara DiGilio, 41. The page, which has 175,000 members, is a place where women of colour and allies post updates on the candidates for the upcoming election.
As a woman of Native American descent and a mother of two young girls, DiGilio says she fears for the outcome of their rights if Trump is re-elected.
“I feel like there’s just so many freedoms that we stand to lose as women,” she said. “They want to repeal and take away safe abortions, but what if they want to take away our right to vote? What if they want to overturn marriage equality?”
Support from allies is something Lumpkin counts on within the “Sisters of color strong for Biden” Facebook group.
Kate Wakeley is one of them. Wakeley said she is hopeful that this election will mean a change within their government.
“I have friends who are African American, and they are Democrat supporters,” she said. “It seems like Joe Biden’s got this, he’s out there listening. He’s talking to people of every faith, every colour, every nationality.”
Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s pick for vice-president, is the first woman of colour to take part in the debate stage as a member of a major party. Harris’s identity as a woman and a person of colour gives Lumpkin hope that reforms will be made and that her presence will mean more diversity in their government. Not only for Black Americans, but for people of all ethnicities and identities.
“Racism is just not for one specific colour. I have friends that are still being treated differently. I have friends that are Chinese, that are being treated differently,” she said. “It’s not fair. Let’s treat everyone with dignity.”