At SPECTRUM21: I’m Speaking, Oklahoma State Rep. Mauree Turner Emphasizes the Importance of Diversity in Leadership
Even with the progress of recent years, women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are still less likely to be promoted, asked to assume leadership roles, or be elected to political office than white men. A shift away from this patriarchal system is underway, however, opening opportunities up to a broader, more diverse coalition with myriad perspectives and experiences.
To kick off SPECTRUM21: I’m Speaking, Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner issued a special address at the event with a focus on trailblazing, which is a situation Turner knows well. A trailblazer themself, Rep. Turner is the first Muslim lawmaker in Oklahoma’s history and the first openly non-binary state legislator in the nation’s history. (Watch the address below!)
“The abridged version of why I got into politics and why now is that quite honestly my community was asking me to,” they said in the address. “I hit the ground running doing community organizing here in Oklahoma, and it was focused on the holistic justice reform that we need. And it’s not so much reform as reimagining it and rebuilding it. And so when I did that, I wanted people who looked like our communities to represent us, and I saw that there was a lack of that at the capitol.”
Rep. Turner emphasized the importance of having people with diverse viewpoints in decision making roles, specifically within politics.
“The important thing about running for office was that visibility,” they said. “That is the underlying thing. When we have experienced parts of the system, we are able to see things, we are able to navigate, we are able to reimagine, and rebuild a system … We are continuously creating new power structures for people to be able to show up fully as themselves.”
They also noted that empowering marginalized people in politics and the economy will require transformations in our systems and within ourselves.
“We have to unlearn some of the most difficult parts about the patriarchy that are ingrained in us,” they said. “And I think that’s so important as we are fostering a new generation that is politically inclined that is so remarkable.”
Rep. Turner closed their address by emphasizing that creating equitable systems and empowering marginalized folks requires collaborative efforts across society.
“Our liberation is tied together. We don’t get to pick and choose who crosses that finish line with us,” Rep. Turner said.