A lexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are exactly the type of women we need in politics right now. Of late, they’ve dominated headlines for untoward reasons. Just days ago, US president Donald Trump – without outrightly naming the four women – told them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came” on Twitter. The politicians retorted by holding a joint press conference together in the Capitol to publicly address the racist remark. Unfortunately, it shows no sign of abating any time soon, as Trump asked a crowd to chant with him “send her back”, referring to Somalia-born Omar during a rally in North Carolina on July 17.
Out of all four women, only Omar was not born in the States. Tlaib was born to Palestinian immigrants, Pressley is African-American and Ocasio-Cortez comes from a New York-Puerto Rican family. Additionally, a bid to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump has been blocked by the US House of Representatives. Ocasio-Cortez has told people to not “take the bait” as Trump attempts to create a “disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence”. As the women continue to hold their own,
Vogue looks at who “The Squad” is and what its members stand for in 2019.
Why are they called “The Squad”?
First of all, it happened organically. The Democratic congresswomen all represent firsts in their right (more on that below). While joking during a photocall about “#SquadGoals”, in reference to the hashtag so often seen on social media platforms, the women were shortly given their moniker of “The Squad”.
The 29-year-old is the youngest woman to have ever been elected into Congress. Often referred to as “AOC”, the former bartender has used social media as a tool to highlight issues she stands for from the get-go. Elected in November 2018 to represent New York’s 14th District – which includes the Bronx (where she grew up) and Queens – the democratic socialist has often been drawn into spats with Trump. But she continues to focus on the policies she truly cares about, including her flagship Green New Deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The 45-year-old was the first black woman elected to Boston’s city council and is now the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in the House of Representatives. She first interned with Joseph P Kennedy II, son of Bobby, and she subsequently spent 13 years working for John Kerry. Pressley, who represents Massachusetts’ 7th District, has served two decades in the House thanks to her affiliation with young people as she consistently pushes her progressive policies. Her first amendment in the House since being elected was to lower the voting age from 18 to 16, which was defeated.
The 42-year-old became the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress and one of the first Muslim women elected when she won Michigan’s 13th District in 2018. Tlaib has shown her support for implementing a $15-per-hour minimum wage across the country. Tlaib, who hails from Detroit, has 13 younger siblings and was the first member of her family to graduate high school. She completed law school in Michigan. Like AOC, she has received multiple death threats from men since being elected.
The 37-year-old former refugee from Somalia moved to the States at the age of 12. Her family was granted asylum in 1995, and Omar became a US citizen aged 17. In November 2018, along with Tlaib, she became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress when she won Minnesota’s 5th District. Omar was elected to Congress on the Quran (rather than the Bible). Rules were then changed in the House of Representatives to allow her to wear the hijab, overturning an 181-year-ban on any form of head covering being worn in the chamber.
Author: SUSAN DEVANEY