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The unique discrimination against women of color in public office

| Mar 31, 2020 | Race Discrimination |

Among approximately 2,400 elected prosecutors in the United States, only 1.84% of that group represents women of color (for a total of 45 officials). This group of prosecutors reports that they have been the target of a particular brand of discrimination, which some scholars have named, ‘misogynoir.’

Underrepresented demographics in public office

Misogynoir describes the particular type of misogyny that women of color experience, a combination of misogyny and racism. As public officials, these prosecutors face elevated hostility compared to most other officials, enduring threats and outspoken abuse of anonymous online posters, other public officials and the general public.

20% of the population are women of color but account for 1.84% of elected prosecutor titles, which include district, prosecuting, county and state’s attorneys, as reported by the Reflective Democracy Campaign (RDC). ABC News surveyed these law enforcement officials to get a better understanding of the challenges women of color face:

  • Marylin Mosby, Baltimore City’s State Attorney, worked for criminal justice reform, prosecuting officers linked to the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. She received much institutional bias, as well as death threats towards her and her family from the general public.
  • After such experiences, Mosby formed a support group that she named “Sisters Circle,” for other women of color in leadership positions in criminal justice agencies.
  • When Kim Gardner, the first woman of color to act as Circuit Court Attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, announced a federal civil rights suit against the city and police unions claiming a campaign of racism to jeopardize her office. Gardner stated that she became a target of racist initiatives after the invasion of privacy charges came out against the Missouri Governor, which led to the police union to hire a public relations firm to discredit her.

Protecting your civil rights

Until there is a better representation of women of color in public office there will continue to be instances of racism and misogyny. If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against by an employer or professional association, you need to contact a lawyer who specializes in employment law and discrimination cases.