Representation isn’t straightforward of course, and no group is a monolith. Some women, like Rhonda Y. Gans, a physician in Chicago, sees Ms. Harris as the “Wonder Woman of the people,” and other Black women voters are approaching the choice with caution. Polls have shown that Black voters themselves were not tied to the idea of Mr. Biden choosing a Black running mate. Younger Black voters say they are more concerned about some of the policies that Ms. Harris supports.
Vanessa Payne, 19, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said she was “disappointed at first,” that Mr. Biden did not choose a more liberal running mate. “But then I realized that some progress is better than no progress,” Ms. Payne said. “All I can do is support her now and hope that whatever she decides to do is for the best.”
The Black women with decades of experience in politics who pushed for this moment know that this milestone for a woman of color in politics is complex.
Even before Ms. Harris’s selection, the same activists who organized the push were readying themselves for the particular brand of racist and sexist attacks likely to be aimed at a Black woman on the presidential ticket.
And within hours of the announcement, they saw examples of what they had been worried about. The Wikipedia page for Ms. Harris was edited to change her name with an offensive reference to female anatomy. From the White House, President Trump repeatedly called her “nasty” and “disrespectful.”
“It is going to be a long road to the White House,” said Moya Bailey, a professor in the department of cultures, societies and global studies at Northeastern University in Boston and who coined the term misogynoir, referring to the way Black women experience both sexism and racism. “I do think that the way our country has shown its disregard for Black women will definitely come up in the weeks and months ahead.”
In March, Mr. Biden said he would pick a woman and in August he put Ms. Harris on the ticket, unleashing moments of both real celebration and real concern for the group of activists who worked for this milestone.