At the 2020 State of the Union Address, Democratic Congresswomen Once Again Made a Statement With Style

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Democratic members from the House of Representatives wearing white attend the State Of The Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2020.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Democratic members from the House of Representatives wearing white attend the State Of The Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2020.
Photo: Mandel Ngan (AFP via Getty Images)

As Trump continued his whitewashing of America on Tuesday night’s State of the Union, many of the Democratic women of the House of Representatives (including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) once again donned white in protest.


While many of our most famous congressional faces—including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), and “Auntie Maxine” Waters (D-Calif.) sat out this year’s SOTU in protest, the women who did attend were primarily dressed in white, a nod to the white garb (and unfortunately lily-white politics) of the suffrage movement at the turn of the last century.

Of course, this generation of feminists put their own spin on the look, accenting their all-white ensembles with culturally specific touches, such as the Kente-printed scarves worn by several, like Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee. “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib took the theme a step further, wearing a white Palestinian thobe, a nod to her own heritage as well as a jab at Trump’s increasingly restrictive—and racist—anti-immigration policies.

“Being #unapologeticallyMe is my way of protesting this #ImpeachedPresident,” Tlaib wrote on Instagram.

And then, there was Rep. Ilhan Omar, who eschewed white this year in favor of clothing inherited from her grandmother; again, a nod to her Somalian heritage and a stylish clapback to Trump’s anti-African, anti-refugee rhetoric.


“I am wearing my Ayeeyo’s Cambuur garbeed and bringing the Arawelo spirit to the people’s house,” Omar captioned her Instagram post, using the hashtags “#firsts #RepresentationMatters #SOTU.”


As Omar noted, representation does matter, and while the silent protest of the House’s Democratic women may have no effect on the ramblings of a mad king, they—along with the blue wave that ushered many of them into Congress—are a cogent reminder that our votes do matter in determining the course of our future as a nation...and ironically, it doesn’t have to remain a white-centric one.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?


Nunna Yorz - American Justice Is A Joke

Not making anything of it, just an observation, but Kamala Harris was wearing all black from what I saw.

I get the sentiment behind this, but I’m hard-pressed to see what they accomplished by participating in that watered down klan rally. No one watching last night was won over to either side. At absolute best their visibility was just a reminder of the importance of the next election.

That is true, but then the cynic in me remembers that:

  • Our districts are gerrymandered.
  • Our voting machines are easily hacked and have been caught flipping votes.
  • Voter suppression is real, and has mostly been used by Republicans against Democratic voters (the recent court cases against the NC Republican party, and AZ for trying to outlaw mail-in ballots).
  • The rules are screwy (Brian Kemp being in charge of the election he was running in is just one example).
  • Republicans have weaponized racism on the national and local levels to win elections for decades.
  • Evidence of outside interference in our elections.
  • The fact that the Republicans, lead by McConnell are not acting to protect our elections.

So, in the face of all that, the white linen walkers will excuse me if I don’t think their gesture amounts to much. I will show up to vote when the time comes, but until then miss me with the theatrics.