One chilly Thursday evening earlier this month, I made my way to the Levine Museum of the New South after work. The Uptown venue was hosting the latest installment of its "New South for the New Southerner" series, and the program promised to discuss the rise of female leadership in Charlotte. As the woman at the helm of a newspaper covering the country's 16th largest city, I thought I could learn a thing or two.
I was greeted with a plate from Mert's Heart and Soul — the kind of meal that wraps around your insides like a warm blanket. Afterward, with a full belly and open mind, I settled in to listen to Betty Chafin Rash, the first woman elected mayor pro tem on City Council, and Bea Thompson, the first black female TV anchor in Charlotte, tell their stories.
By the time I left the Levine, I thought I could take on the world. These tales of perseverance in the face of sexism were so inspiring, if not a little infuriating. (I wish someone in the workplace would comment on my dress.) If back then these two women could make such strides in industries even to this day dominated by men, what kind of impact could I have in 2015?
In fact, I was so inspired by that evening, I've come up with my own way of keeping myself accountable to my goals. Instead of WWJD, I ask myself, WWBTD? Would Bea Thompson binge-watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians? I just can't see it.
Charlotte is filled with inspiring women such as these two. I've been quite fortunate to get to know many better since becoming editor of CL. If random words of encouragement were currency, I could make a serious dent in my student loan repayment. One dear woman joked recently that if I ever needed a cheerleader, she'd show up to my office with pom-poms in hand.
It's this kind of sisterly support I'm thinking about as Women's History Month draws to a close and one North Carolina native isn't making the headlines she should have been by now.
Loretta Lynch, who was born in Greensboro and raised in Durham, is President Obama's pick for U.S. Attorney General. By all accounts, she'd be pretty damn good at the job. (Her current role? U.S attorney for the Eastern District of New York.)
If confirmed, she would become the first African-American woman and the first native North Carolinian to serve in that role.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is dragging its heels. Although Lynch was nominated in November, a vote probably won't happen until mid-April, making her the longest-waiting nominee in 30 years.
As usual, it's all about politics. (Side note: Both North Carolina's Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis do not intend to support her nomination. Way to show that Tar Heel love, guys. Even South Carolina's Sen. Lindsey Graham gave her the thumbs up in the judiciary committee hearing, for goodness' sake.) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is delaying Lynch's confirmation vote because of legislation Democrats and Republicans are fighting over — not at all because she isn't qualified. Last week, passage of the Justice for Victims in Trafficking Act fell short by five votes because Democrats are upset about anti-abortion language in the measure. Afterward, McConnell said the Senate has "to finish the human trafficking bill" before they can move on to confirming Lynch.
I don't know about you, but I'm all about crossing things off my to-do list. Maybe it's why I won't ever go into public office.
Time and time again, Congress proves its ineffectiveness. (Fun fact: Four out of five members of Congress are white men.) It's why Obama has turned to executive orders to get things done. What could have been a moment for the Senate to shine in a bleak political environment is now gone. A swift confirmation might have deterred the grumbling accusations of racism — which, honestly, is probably still a factor — and instead, we're left with the same old partisan politics. A status quo of disappointment.
But I don't want to moan about the same old tired system. Instead, allow me to shake a figurative set of pom-poms for Lynch and call on the Senate to move to put her in charge at the Department of Justice. Not because she's a woman who can hang with "the boys." And not because she's a woman of color, although my heart sings at the idea of young girls aspiring to be like her.
Senators, confirm Lynch for Attorney General because she's the right person for the job. Doing so will show us you are indeed capable of doing your own.