WOMEN AND THE VOTE DIGITAL SERIES
We would call the little girl who tests out and skips half of kindergarten smart. We would probably call the little girl who tests out and skips half of the third grade a genius. But what would we call the sixteen-year-old walking around the University of California, Los Angeles’ campus trying to figure out another major after discovering that the road to becoming a pediatrician had had the two subjects she dislikes—math and science—at every turn? I’ll tell you what we call her; we call Tricia Taylor. No. Correction. Because of a very wise friend, we call her Judge Tricia Taylor.
Not too independent to take a friend’s advice in a moment of indecision, Taylor was encouraged to alternatively consider majoring in Sociology in undergrad and later encouraged by the same friend to attend USC’s Law School after not really knowing what direction she wanted to go in upon receiving her undergraduate degree from UCLA. Still thankful to this day, Taylor, 40, credits her close friend with pointing her in the direction of the path that led to her historic judgeship appointment in October of 2019.
Though ambivalent on some level about what path to take in college, what Taylor who was born in Maryland and settled in California at seven years old with her family always had certainty around was her commitment to being successful. And how could she not be successful with a mom who taught her and her three siblings growing up that there is no such thing as I can’t. “We could not say ‘I can’t’ in our household. My mom never said we couldn’t say it. She just showed us. She was a single mother raising us on her own. She worked, got her education and she never gave up. She set the bar high in terms of work ethic. So, when I face a challenge now, I know that I can find a way.”
Looking back at how women found a way one hundred years ago to win their right to vote after facing countless battles that involved suffrage, oppression, and civil rights, Taylor feels a deep sense of gratitude for where she is in history and speaks from that place of gratitude with the following: “If you look back at the literal blood that has been shed to grant us access to the right to vote, for me voting is not just my right, it is my responsibility—especially as a person of color, especially as a woman. So, we vote to hold on to the right. We vote for future generations.”
“By the grace of God, I can be a judge. And being a judge means something to a woman of color entering my courthouse who sees me on the bench. She sees a judge who is representative of her and our society.”
Taylor’s acknowledgment that we still have to keep clearing the way for the generations to come does not prohibit her from celebrating the progress that has been made. The fact that she believes from a representation standpoint that her role as a Black woman judge moves the needle doesn’t blur her vision regarding the extent to which too many women of color still suffer in our communities and the work we must do to address this suffering. “By the grace of God, I can be a judge. And being a judge means something to a woman of color entering my courthouse who sees me on the bench. She sees a judge who is representative of her and our society.”
Committed to excellence and endowed with the honorable power of dispensing justice, when asked by a mentor just a couple of weeks into her judgeship how she liked it, Taylor responded, “I wish I was already a better judge. I wish I knew more so when people come in my court, I can give them better service.” As Taylor approaches the one-year mark of her appointment by Governor Gavin Newsom to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, she thrillingly told me that being a judge is hands down the best job she’s ever had. Because there was a time when "judge" did not and could not exist in the front of a women’s name, may women everywhere remember that a win for women in one area of history is a contribution to a win for women in another area of history.