Young, Black, Lesbian Tiara Mack Heads to RI State Senate

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday November 20, 2020

Tiara Mack
Tiara Mack  (Source:Tiara Mack / Twitter)

Tiara Mack, a 26-year-old Black lesbian, is headed to Rhode Island state Senate, NBC News reports. Mack is part of the "rainbow wave" of over 220 LGBTQ-identifying candidates to win office this year.

Mack, a recent Brown University graduate, unseated incumbent Harold Metts, a Baptist Church deacon and retired educator. Mack campaigned door-to-door in District 6 as a proudly Black, queer and progressive Democrat, contrasting herself with the more conservative Metts, also a Democrat. Metts had served 15 years in the Senate, following 20 years in the state House.

The catalyst was a fight over a bill in Rhode Island to codify Roe v. Wade into state law. Metts was opposed. Mack sent him a letter urging him to change his vote, to which Metts responded with a letter quoting the Bible, saying he would not "support abortion bills." Mack recalled thinking "I can't believe I'm getting this letter in 2019," and launched her campaign five months later.

Mack said that even though Rhode Island appears to be progressive because Democrats outweigh Republicans in state government, liberal constituents are often unaware of just how conservative Democratic politicians are. "And that's what's really exciting, like really exposing to Rhode Islanders that we don't have this blue state that we all want to praise and want to live in. We have a lot of folks who are not thinking about progress for all people."

Not a native New Englander, Mack was raised in a conservative Southern household, where in school she signed an abstinence pledge in sixth grade. It was later when she attended Brown University in Providence that the state's more liberal cultural leanings were enlightening despite the more conservative tendencies of Democrats in state government.

In making her case to voters door-to-door, Mack was adamant about explaining to each person why her queer, Black identity should matter to them, concluding that voters "value people who are firm in their beliefs and who are not going to back down... I'm going to be unapologetically Black... queer... young, and I'm going to push back against the system that tells us we don't deserve justice now."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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