Atlanta’s Next Mayor May Be Named Keisha
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 11/9/2017, 9:29 a.m.
Atlanta’s next mayor could be a Black woman named Keisha – a prospect that thrills Diamond Harris, reports the Associated Press. The 28-year-old graphic designer wrote recent;y on her Facebook page: “Keisha, Keisha, Keisha! I just want a mayor named Keisha.” Harris, a native of Saginaw, Michigan, who moved to Atlanta last year, cast her ballot Tuesday for city councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, who will face fellow councilwoman Mary Norwood in a Dec. 5 runoff election. “Just having a mayor whose name isn’t the standard name you would find on a coffee mug… I don’t know what could be better!” Harris said in a phone interview. “It’s kind of like when (Barack) Obama became president.” A campaign once fixated on the possibility of Atlanta electing a white mayor for the first time in decades has suddenly shifted to the notion that the city could end up with “Mayor Keisha” – adding Bottoms to a growing list of politicians whose ethnic-sounding names haven’t hindered them from winning elected office. Ethnic-sounding names have long been considered an obstacle, particularly when applying for jobs or college admissions. The 1970s “Black is beautiful” movement led to a boom in Afrocentric names, and many of those children are now adults working across all facets of American society, including politics. “By asserting their identity and using their given names, they’re asking people to take them as they are,” said Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie. “In a city like Atlanta, with a large African-American population and a long history of African-American leadership, that’s just not a liability.” A study published in January 2016 in the journal “Evolution and Human Behavior” showed that men whose names were viewed as stereotypically Black are more likely than their non-stereotypically named counterparts to be imagined as physically large, dangerous and violent. Lately, such bias seems to be less of an issue at the ballot box. Voters in recent cycles have elected Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, 34, in Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Ras Baraka, 47, in Newark, and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, 53, in California. An upcoming runoff between LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet will give New Orleans its first-ever Black woman mayor.