Senator Holly J. Mitchell discussed her campaign for Los Angeles County Supervisor, The Crown Act, and more in an exclusive interview with theGrio.
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In California, Senator Holly J. Mitchell is primed to take a new role as she campaigns for Los Angeles County Supervisor to represent District 2.
For Mitchell, the coronavirus pandemic did more than take her campaign virtual. The senator informed theGrio in an exclusive interview that COVID-19 highlighted problems already disproportionately affecting residents in her community. According to the 56-year-old, the pandemic did not change her views or approach to political issues the Los Angeles County residents faced before the novel coronavirus reached American soil, from food and housing insecurity to mental and physical health.
Healthcare, environmental justice, jobs, homelessness, and youth outreach and protection are all listed as Mitchell’s core issues. Los Angeles County is one of the largest counties in the United States with a population of over 10 million people and the Second District has 2 million residents according to Mitchell, made mostly of Black and Brown people.
“My website was created in the primary, way before all of our world’s changed in March with COVID-19. That just is a reflection of who we are, and the reality of the community I hope to represent in the second district, and communities that I currently represent as a sitting state senator. Those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 were communities that were already suffering,” she said.
— Holly J. Mitchell (@HollyJMitchell) October 9, 2020
Leaning on her nine years of service to her community in the state legislature, Mitchell informed theGrio her history sets her apart from her opponent, former L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson. The senator said Los Angeles County Supervisor “is the job I’ve really trained for my entire career.”
According to her online bio, her proudest accomplishments include the #EqualityandJustice package of criminal justice reform bills, transitional housing placement for foster youth to help prevent youth homelessness, and other equity-based initiatives.
“I ran the largest Child and Family Services Agency In the state that has county contracts, I’ve been in the legislature for 10 years. I’m the first Black woman in state history to chair the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee,” she remarked.
“To have the opportunity to elect someone who has done that work, and particularly right now in the middle of COVID, [with a], close working relationship with the governor [Gavin Newsome] he’s endorsed me, is a true asset. It’s valuable to the Residents of the district because we’re gonna need the state to make sure we have the resources we need to continue to meet the needs of the people who live here. That’s why I chose to run.”
Her work as a politician goes beyond creating change in California. Senator Mitchell introduced The CROWN Act, a law that protects Black people from race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists, or Bantu knots. The law has passed in seven states, including her home state, New York and Virginia. In over a dozen states, the act was filed but did not pass.
“I think those states that couldn’t find their way to providing protection under the law for the natural way Black people’s hair grows is indicative of their inability to confront their own implicit bias,” she said.
She has worn her hair in locs for her entire political career. Mitchell remembered making the decision on her 40th birthday and understood the weight of her crown.
“We couldn’t find any Black women 12 years ago in office with locs. I was clear when I made my decision to loc at 40, I was leaving a major organization. I understood the signal I was sending to my 500 employees. I understood that people would read into my hairstyle choice. I understood it was political and social in nature and I was completely comfortable with portraying that image,” Mitchell said.
A post shared by Holly J. Mitchell (@hollyjmitchell) on Oct 15, 2020 at 12:01pm PDT
Including the CROWN act, being a Black woman has shaped Mitchell’s politics and goals. She has occupied space in the policymaking arena around Black infant mortality, Black maternal morbidity, and brought issues that disproportionately affect Black people to the forefront.
“It is who I am, it is the lens through which I see the world, I experience the world and it’s the moves through which I legislate and appropriate resources. I’m the only black woman that serving in the California State Senate currently and I’m only the fourth since statehood. I’m clear that I have a responsibility to bring it,” she said. “I am confident in my skin, and it gives In great pride to stand on that floor.”
She continued, “To have the opportunity to bring my full self to the work of the county to reflect the needs of not just It’s the Black community but all and all underrepresented people is really powerful.”
Mitchell is prepared to host a virtual fundraiser Sunday to expand on her political agenda. During the Dessert and Champagne titled event, she will be introduced by media mogul and philanthropist, Byron Allen, owner of Allen Media Group and Entertainment Studios.
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