Six women of color who worked for Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign in Nevada have left since November, according to a report from Politico. The women said they quit because they felt they were there as tokens and were “routinely silenced” and sidelined.
Field organizer Megan Lewis explained to Politico why she quit. “During the time I was employed with Nevada for Warren, there was definitely something wrong with the culture. I filed a complaint with HR, but the follow-up I received left me feeling as though I needed to make myself smaller or change who I was to fit into the office culture,” she said.
“I felt like a problem — like I was there to literally bring color into the space but not the knowledge and voice that comes with it,” another former staffer who wished to remain anonymous told Politico, adding, “We all were routinely silenced and not given a meaningful chance on the campaign. Complaints, comments, advice, and grievances were met with an earnest shake of the head and progressive buzzwords but not much else.”
In addition to feeling personally marginalized, the women said that the campaign did not prioritize getting campaign literature in Spanish, hiring Spanish-fluent organizers or hosting events in Spanish, which they say hindered outreach to the Latino community.
Warren responded to the women, telling Boston’s WBTS, “So I just heard about this, and I believe the women who have spoken up and believe them unequivocally and I apologize to them personally. It’s important to me to try to build an organization that is diverse and inclusive and open and lets everyone bring their whole self to work every day. But I recognize that the legacy of racism and oppression pervade everything that we do in this country and so, for me, this is about taking personal responsibility, which I do, and being determined that we will have accountability in this organization and keep doing better every day.”
Responding to Warren’s apology, Lewis said, “I think it’s a great response. I appreciate her apology. I love Elizabeth Warren and I’m more excited than ever to caucus for her.”
Historically, political campaigns have been heavily white and male, and as campaign staffers have become increasingly diverse, some candidates have struggled to create an inclusive environment. After the 2016 campaign, women who worked for Bernie Sanders campaign accused him of paying female campaign workers less than their male counterparts, and some of them said they were sexually harassed by male staff. And during this cycle, staffers from candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign voiced complaints that it was not an inclusive workplace, and some Latino and Latina staff said they had been asked to translate campaign materials into Spanish, although they did not speak the language.