On the morning of Saturday, Nov. 7, Joe Biden was announced to become the 46th president of the United States. While some perceived the news as a devastating loss, many of us sighed with relief. After four years of neglect for the environment, immigrants, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and human rights in general, voters in America managed to stand up for what they deserve.
Biden’s election deserves celebration and excitement. Countless groups and individuals have put a significant amount of effort into encouraging others to vote and producing the outcome of this election. However, it is crucial to understand that this is only the beginning. We are not only approaching the conclusion of a dramatic, irresponsible presidency, but are experiencing the beginning of a new, substantial change. Biden’s win is merely the starting point in creating an environment where human beings are accepted as they are. There is so much work to do.
First, representation matters. Kamala Harris made history on Saturday by becoming the first female person of color to be vice president. This is monumentally important, as women and people of color in positions of power have yet to be “normalized.” About 78% of Congress members are white, and about 76% are men. But, how does this compare to the population of the United States? Only 61% of Americans are white, and less than 51% are men.
So why, in such a diverse country, are the majority of Congress members white, heterosexual, non-disabled, wealthy men? While we have elected someone for president who meets all of these criteria, he is ultimately our best hope in creating a more diverse Congress that can better represent the true layout of the US.
Second, the way the pandemic is being handled needs to change immediately. Heartbreakingly, over 230,000 Americans have died so far, and our numbers are continually increasing.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid.” Donald Trump spoke these words shortly after the U.S. death toll surpassed 210,000. This resonated with me strongly, as most of the people I know opt to disregard the concept of physical distancing, an effective way of preserving our safety. Many have expressed frustration in restrictions and mask-wearing, but following the guidelines properly is the only way to eliminate restrictions in the long run.
There is so much to do, learn, and reform. But now, our country is finally equipped with the leaders that can make these changes happen.
Grace Sprecher is a senior at Mayo High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters, firstname.lastname@example.org.