Headline, Politics

Desi women like me are ‘changing the idea of what a senator in American looks like’: WA State Sen. Mona Das

Mona Das swearing in
Indian American Mona Das being sworn in as a Washington State senator at the state capitol in Olympia on January 14. Das says show wore bright, purple kurta for the ceremony because she wanted to reflect her Indian roots.

“It’s about time that we paid attention to things that matter in America, and I and hundreds of other women of color like me are poised to do just that,” says Indian American lawmaker Mona Das, who represents Washington’s 47th Senate District.

Washington State Sen. Mona Das is about to complete her first month in office and she eels exceptionally proud of being a part of a historic political landscape in America that is more diverse than ever before.

The Indian American lawmaker, who came to the United States when she was only 8 months old, says that she always has been a proud American — even though many told her that she didn’t look like one. Today, she says, that she is happy to be in a position from where she can make a difference for thousands of women like her.

Das defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Joe Fain from Washington’s 47th district last November.

Talking about her first month in the office and being amongst the new-age desi women who are coming into prominence in America now, Das says her journey has been an interesting and eventful one.

ALSO READ: Indian American Women’s March to Olympia: Mona Das wins Washington State Senate race (November 10, 2019)

“The general perception of a senator in America is that of an old white guy,” she says. “So, when women like me take this position, there are moments of disbelief and wonder.” She adds, “In Olympia, a lot of people do not recognize me as yet. When I am wearing my badge, I get a totally different and sometimes surprised reaction. Possibly some do not expect a brown, a woman and a young person as a senate but the good thing is that this change is happening across America. Besides a large number of women, today we have a historic number of LGBTQ in US Congress. I am happy to be amongst those who are changing the stereotypes. Women of color like me are changing the idea of what a senator in America looks like.”

Das’s parents came from the Munger district of Bihar, India.  She says new-age politicians like her are immensely proud of their roots. In her case, it was evident during her swearing-in ceremony on January 14.

“I chose to wear a bright, purple kurta for my ceremony as I wanted to reflect my Indian roots,” she says. “In the small village of Kharagpur in Munger, where I come from, a bright purple kurta would be considered the right celebratory outfit so I wanted to stress and not suppress my Indian identity too.”

During her first month in office, politics at the federal level was highly divisive, with Washington witnessing the longest federal government shutdown in history. “It was horrible to imagine so many Americans not getting their paychecks on time,” she says. “Americans live paycheck to paycheck. They do not have the luxury of missing a paycheck.”

On the issue of building a wall on the Mexican border, the main reason for the shutdown, Das says, “75 percent of Americans do not want a wall and that should explain why we don’t need it. We have so many urgent issues to take of such as environment.”

Das who has been inspired by Pramila Jayapal says, “It’s about time that we paid attention to things that matter in America, and I and hundreds of other women of color like me are poised to do just that.”

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