*In general, the success of women seeking to hold a political office in America is much more difficult than for men. For women of color, their journeys into the world of politics are even harder – many times because of deeply rooted stereotypes and sometimes flat-out bias and racism.
A’Shanti Gholar, a political activist, is fully aware of the obstacles women of color face when they seek political office or an associative position in America’s political sphere.
“I was once that girl,” said Gholar. “I was that young girl who loved politics, but looked around and didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me. There were not a lot of people of color, and certainly not a lot of women of color. I wondered if I had a place in politics?”
Gholar was fortunate to make valuable inroads into politics thanks to opportunities of volunteerism and political organizing. In 2011, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Special Assistant to the Secretary in the Office of Public Engagement of the U.S. Department of Labor. She subsequently served as Director of Public Engagement for the Democratic National Convention Committee. Gholar later was the National Deputy Director for the DNC’s Community Engagement, followed by becoming the organization’s Director of African American Engagement.
Seeking ways to help other women of color reach their respective dreams and aspirations in the world of politics, Gholar created a podcast and blog called The Brown Girls Guide to Politics. In April, 2018 she rolled out “The Brown Girls Guide to Politics” podcast program in partnership with Wonder Media Network. It can be heard on all major podcast apps.
Gholar described the mission of “The Brown Girls Guide to Politics” podcast.
“It’s a space for black and brown women and girls in and interested in Democratic and progressive politics to come together, share our experiences, and grow our ranks,” Gholar explained.
Season one’s inaugural program, which spotlighted women trailblazers in politics, featured an interview with Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor of Georgia in 2018 as a member of the Democratic Party. Abrams previously served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017. Abrams spoke candidly about her political resume, her close but unsuccessful bid to become Georgia’s governor, and her Fair Fight movement to promote fair elections and increase voter participation.
“I’ve known Stacey since 2014 when I worked at the Democratic National Committee,” Gholar said. “She’s been very supportive since the moment I met her.”
Season 1 and Season 2 have been overwhelmingly successful, according to Gholar, with each season consisting of 12 episodes. With the goal of helping women of color better navigate the deep, choppy, and uncertain waters of politics, Gholar is looking ahead.
“We are now in our third season,” she said. “We interview black, brown and indigenous women in politics. These women tell their stories about why they do the work and the challenges in the work. We always end by asking our signature question: What advice would you give to the other women of color listening to the podcast?”
Gholar added that during Season 3, The Brown Girls Guide to Politics podcast Is partnering with She the People, to highlight “20 Women of Color to Watch” in 2020’s election cycle. She the People is a national organization created to elevate the voices of women of color.
In addition to hosting The Brown Girls Guide to Politics podcast, Gholar is president of Emerge America, a national training recruitment organization for Democratic women who want to run for political office. Created in 2005, the organization has political training programs in 27 states and has trained more than 4,000 women to run for office.
Through her platforms of The Brown Girls Guide to Politics and Emerge America, Gholar is able to positively impact the roads women of color must travel to be successful in the political arena. Gholar said she hears feedback from people who are not of color, who say her podcast gives them a better perspective of women of color in general and in the political world.
There are also feedback messages intended to be roadblocks for women of color seeking political office.
“We receive messages from people who think the podcast is divisive,” Gholar said. “There are people who tell us that we don’t know what we are talking about. There are people who say women should just stay at home, have babies, cook and clean house. That type of talk is not going to stop us because there will always be haters.”
For Gholar, and her quest to empower and promote women of color in the political sphere, the beat goes on.
“Our mission is to demystify the process for women of color running for political office,” Gholar explained. “We want to be a valuable resource for the women.”
New Season 3 episodes of “The Brown Girls Guide to Politics” are launched every Monday through June 22, 2020. For more information, visit www.thebgguide.com.
Story by Don Saint James / [email protected]