The 117th Congress Reflects Our Changing America

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

“The 117th Congress will be the most diverse group of lawmakers ever to chart the nation’s course when it meets in January after women and nonwhite candidates made gains in the November elections,” states a recent report in The Hill.

This shift in our nation’s armor is a testament to the strong will and perseverance of a people that refuse to live on their knees so rich white men can continue to reap the lion share of our nation’s wealth and supremacy. Black folks, after building the most powerful nation in the world via brutal slave labor, fighting its wars without adequate thanks, inventing products that forever changed how people live, all while subjected to living on the dark side of the moon for what feels like eternity, are changing the face of Congress and other governing institutions across the country. And this fierce determination of grace is not only the pilot light of humanity, but the embodiment of E Pluribus Unum. We’re finally seeing the face of America and it’s a tapestry full of colors, cultures and religion.

Out of many, one nation of diverse people is finally emerging from behind the iron curtain staunchly guarded by a dying breed of shameless dividers and greedy power-hungry hoarders like Mitch McConnell. No doubt, history will reward him and his ilk accordingly, and rightfully so. Just like Confederate statues tumbling down, so will their legacy of white supremacy, greed and total disregard for the path of righteousness that stands right before them. McConnell represents the shame of American greed that refuses to budge, despite the harsh truth and evidence of his impact on his own state of Kentucky, and the entire nation struggling through a deadly pandemic. His impact on America, unique in its search for identity, will never be forgotten and should never be forgiven. As families lineup in food lines across the country, McConnell is fighting to maintain his grip on power rather than cooperate with fellow lawmakers to provide relief for desperate Americans. A crucial piece of legislation to provide Americans with much needed Covid-19 relief, as well as fund our military, H.R.6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA) is facing a veto threat from Trump and pushback from McConnell. Why, you ask? Because they object to the level of protection for taxpayers during a pandemic and renaming U.S. military bases honoring Confederate commanders. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell believe the nation is overreacting to a pandemic and want to protect traitors who killed their own countrymen to preserve slavery. They say the forces that surround power are the real power. And that power belongs to McConnell. Folks, evil has a face, and he’s the epitome of Sheev Palpatine seething with gritted teeth, “everything that has transpired has done so according to my design.”

Although the road to self-determination has been long and bloody, the struggle is finally bearing some edible fruit. And the makeup of the 117th Congress tells us we’re on the right path to creating the world Dr. King spoke of during his speech at the 1963 March on Washington. We’re rising up to live out the true meaning of America’s creed. The fight to break the chains that have bonded Black people since the dawn of European conquest for the riches of Africa are slowly coming off. One revolution after another, bit by bit, struggle by struggle, heartache upon heartache, injustice after injustice, our spirit, protected and guided by the dreams of our ancestors, refuses to buckle, bend or retreat. From the many battles to maintain Africa for African people, slavery and the African Diaspora, the Abolitionist movement, the Civil War, Women’s Suffrage, Industrialization, the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights movement, Black people have led the way for mankind’s ultimate freedom, even from self. And Black people in pursuit of salvation have galvanized other ethnic groups to do the same by rising up to face a common enemy: greed and imperialism birthed by Europeans and their designated murderer of humanity, Christopher Columbus who paved the way that ushered in slavery.

The whistling winds of change blowing from plantation to freedom in America is slowly being reflected in the hub of our collective power: Congress. Even so, there is no moment for rest, as there is no rest for the weary. The work to deliberately right the wrongs is just beginning. And not just to clean up Trump’s 4-year destruction of political, societal and international norms, but to rebuild an unjust system that oppresses Black and brown people.

And what does that look like? It looks like flipping the Senate by way of voting Democrat in Georgia. Despite a historic win to seat Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President, staunch efforts are being made to muzzle we, the people who spoke loud and clear with our votes. Bishop Talbert Swan said it perfectly on Twitter, “17 white, Republican, attorney generals are supporting the Texas attorney general’s attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 election by suing PA, MI, GA, and WI because Black people in Philly, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta voted against Trump is white supremacy on steroids.” This is the movement Trump dragged in like the dead rodent brought in the house by the cat. Bob Marley once said, evil never takes a day off and neither should good, making the work ahead crucial as this country heads into an unknown future as leader of the free world in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

The justice being ushered in also looks like, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, General Lloyd Austin selected to head the Department of Defense, Congresswoman Martha L. Fudge as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation. And it looks like the feisty Congresswoman Katie Porter who isn’t afraid to fight her elders in Congress for the sake of her countrymen. There can be no peace without justice. And it’s not a personal pursuit of pillory against white people, rather war against a system structured to oppress Black people in every sector of our society. This unifying movement in America, is a demand to right blatant wrongs and finally end the brutality inflicted upon Black people and other POC by Europeans and their descendants. This isn’t new. Many wars have been fought, from Africa to the shores of America and everywhere in between, to push back their land and wealth grab, and inhumanity.

Our work also looks like honesty about the history of the world, curriculum change that teaches the truth about man’s history, cultural theft and genocide, discoveries and conquests from ancient to modern times, deliberate upward mobility initiatives to finally allow Black people to hold their rightful prosperous place in America, police reform and equality; socially and economically. Similar to whites receiving reparations following the end of slavery, so too must African Americans benefit from an eternity of brutality, lynching’s and injustice in a country of their making. Imagine 500 years of being forced to live on your knees for the benefit of one group that continues to profit from these unjust circumstances. We’re not there yet but I’m grateful we’re on our way to the mountain top Dr. King envisioned for all Americans. The changing face and make-up of Congress isn’t about one group of people losing, but rather all of us winning.

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Apart from its political makeup, the new Congress differs from prior ones in other ways, including its demographics. Here are six charts that show how Congress has changed over time, using historical data from CQ Roll Call, the Brookings Institution, the Congressional Research Service and other sources.

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