NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Love or hate her, New York City Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most-talked about women in American politics these days.
Known by supporters as simply AOC, the freshman congresswoman from the Bronx took Capitol Hill by storm when she beat out her incumbent opponent with far less money and resources.
Since then, she’s appeared at national events, been on numerous national television programs and, most-recently, spoke at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
WCBS 880’s Lynda Lopez, an Emmy award-winning journalist, explored the rise of AOC in her new book, “AOC: The Fearless Rise and Powerful Resonance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Anchor Wayne Cabot spoke with Lopez about the book and the challenges the congresswoman faces in steering the national conversation, given society’s perception of powerful women and unfamiliarity of strong women of color.
“She is a leader who's different from other women political leaders that we've seen in the past. We've sort of grown up on this narrative that women who are in politics, who begins to rise and have some power, who take really bad and negative hits from all ends, are supposed to rise above it. They're supposed to take the high road, be silent, not respond back in any way that might be a strong response,” Lopez explains. “I think one of the reasons why she resonates with so many people is because she decided from day one, ‘I will stand here and I will give a response.’”
The WCBS 880 anchor explains that Ocasio-Cortez gained a lot of respect when she defended herself against Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) for profane and sexist remarks that he made against her on the Capitol steps.
“She decided to get up on the floor of Congress, and not talk about some policy or something about her party or something partisan, but to say, ‘You have to respect me as a person and a woman, and that’s the message that I’m going to give because I realize that if I don’t get up and say that, I’m saying it’s okay for this kind of thing to continue.’ And she's saying that leadership, especially if it's women, women of color – you know, people that we don't have in large numbers in our leadership – should be able to expect that,” Lopez stressed.
The book, which was edited by Lopez, compiles a series of essays from 17 contributors, including author Jennine Capó Crucet, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, PolicyLink director Tracey Ross and actor Keegan-Michael Key, exploring the multiple meanings of a young Latina politician, who has already made history in so many ways.
Though, she says the most emotional one for her to write about was her own father’s response to Ocasio-Cortez.
She notes that her father and her family grew up in the Bronx, where AOC is from, and says that even though her family has since relocated, they all have strong ties to their hometown.
“I had no idea he was paying attention to what was going on politically there, so he was fully aware of AOC’s primary run and how she was taking on Joe Crowley and I didn't know that he was,” Lopez explains. “But the night that she won her primary – I have two sisters and so he texts the three of us all together in a group text, like dads do – and said two words: Alexandria won.”
She says her and her sisters were taken by surprise by the text because “we had no idea he was following what was happened back home, but he also didn’t have to say anymore for us to know what he meant.”
Lopez adds of AOC’s victory, her father was proud.
“Because he could see us in her,” Lopez says, adding that her father knows well that it is hard to set children up to succeed in the New York City borough.
“He knew that we had to fight and he wished for better to get there and he saw someone who was so young, and I think reminded him a little of us, do that so successfully and so quickly, that it struck him in a personal way – and so having him have that response struck me in a personal way,” the WCBS anchor said.