Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Income Issue Is A Prime Example Why White Men Remain In Positions Of Power

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Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez swept this week's midterms, however, don’t count on her moving from her old digs anytime soon.
ESSENCE.COM Nov, 09, 2018

Apparently, it’s hard out here for a politician. Particularly, if you’re a woman of color.

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez swept this week’s midterms, however, don’t count on her moving from her old digs anytime soon.

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While the newly-elected Ocasio-Cortez is thrilled about this new chapter, it’ll take a major income boost to close out the old one. For the time being, she simply can’t afford the D.C. rents. In an interview with The New York Times, she explained her “very real” challenge.

“I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said, noting the three-month waiting period before she is sworn in. “So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.” 

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D.C. rentals are the seventh highest in the country. As NBC noted a one-bedroom can easily start at $2,170.

For many of us, particularly Black and Brown women, going three months without an income isn’t an option when you consider the wage gap—where Black women are paid 38 percent less than white men. Even earning enough money to live off of for three months is daunting.

At the start of the year, the 29-year-old worked as a bartender. While she admitted to saving money and planning as much as she could with her partner, the next few months will be tricky.

After the story broke, Ocasio-Cortez, who won New York’s 14th Congressional District, tweeted a follow-up: “We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.”

The Congresswoman-elect is the youngest woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, and despite her successful climb, her financial situation isn’t uncommon. Particularly for a millennial in an unforgiving job market. “There are many little ways in which our electoral system isn’t even designed (nor prepared) for working-class people to lead,” she also said in the interview.

It’s not uncommon for women, particularly women of color, to begin their political career with debt or with very little in the bank. Former schoolteacher Jahana Hayes is Connecticut’s first black Democrat in Congress and she’s openly discussed having $115,000 in student debt plus a mortgage on her financial disclosure forms. Even as Stacey Abrams continues her gubernatorial fight, the shadow of her $228,000 dollar debt looms large.