U.S.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Details Sexism, Racism During First Days on Capitol Hill: ‘I Was Sent to Spouse Event’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history this midterm election cycle, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Now, the lawmaker is making headlines for highlighting the racism and sexism she says has been at play during her first days on Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez was on her way to a member luncheon in Washington, D.C., when someone directed her to an event being held at the same time for the spouses of elected Democrats.

“I was sent to the spouse event,” she wrote on Twitter. The congresswoman added that she was also stopped because someone assumed that she was an “intern/staffer” instead of a House member.

“Next time try believing women + people of color when they talk about their experiences being a woman or person of color,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the social media post.

Her candid comments over the past few days, whether it be talking about being mistaken for an intern or not being able to secure an apartment in Washington, D.C., until her congressional salary kicks in, have been celebrated by other staffers and lawmakers who shared similar experiences.

“As a young Latina staffer, I felt the need to play it cool, act like I was raised around this wealth. To act like I belonged. But @Ocasio2018 taking us along as she excitedly walks the halls signals we don’t have to change ourselves for these institutions. It’s time they changed,” Alexa Kissinger, a former Obama staffer, wrote on Twitter.

New Yorker Ocasio-Cortez has been surrounding herself with other notable “firsts” in Congress, including Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley. Tlaib and Omar are the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, and Pressley is the first woman of color Massachusetts has sent to the House of Representatives.

“We did not come to play,” Omar wrote in a Twitter post highlighting the diverse group of women elected to the 116th Congress.

alexandria ocasio-cortez, sexism, racism, congress Freshmen representatives of the 116th Congress, like New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rush off after their member-elect photo on Capitol Hill, on November 14. Ocasio-Cortez has been detailing the racism and sexism present in Washington during her first days in Congress. Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez has also highlighted the more racially and ethnically diverse group of newly elected lawmakers through her Instagram stories, including posting photos of herself alongside Lucy McBath and Deb Haaland. McBath is a black female gun-reform activist elected to the House from Georgia, and Haaland and Sharice Davids are the first Native American women in Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez kicked off her first day of freshman orientation this week by challenging establishment Democrats, joining over 100 people in a climate change protest outside Nancy Pelosi’s office.

“I, not just as an elected member but as a 29-year-old woman, am thinking not just about what we’re going to accomplish in the next two years, but the America we’re going to live in for the next 30 years. I don’t want to see Miami and my own district under water,” Ocasio-Cortez told members of the media at the demonstration.

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