RHODE Island Sen. Tiara Mack was elected in 2021, winning against candidate Harold Metts who held the position since 1985.
Mack made history when she became the first Black LGBTQ person to take the seat.
Who is Tiara Mack?
Tiara Mack, 28, is originally from the South, living in both Georgia and North Carolina before moving to Rhode Island to attend Brown University.
She was invited to speak at the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy as part of the Rhode Island Politics and Policy Series in 2021.
The Brown Daily Herald reported that she told university students from her alma mater that she had made the move to Brown as a "low-income, first-generation Black student."
Coming from a conservative family, Mack said her parents didn't educate her on reproductive health, prompting her to become a sexual health educator.
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“Being low income, Black, and from the conservative Christian South was a lot of culture shock and narratives that I definitely was not prepared for when walking on campus,” Mack told NBC News.
While attending the university, she worked with the organization Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education to teach those with similar backgrounds to her.
In 2014, she went on to intern at the Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and worked on legislators' campaigns who had been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island.
After graduation, Mack worked as a math teacher at New Bedford public schools, but in 2018 she made the switch to politics.
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It was then that she said she realized how conservative the political landscape was when she worked on a bill called the Reproductive Privacy Act which codified Roe v Wade.
The bill passed in a 21-17 vote in the Senate and was approved by the House in a 45-29 vote.
It was signed into law by Gov Gina Raimondo in June 2019.
Her opinion of conservatives in politics resulted in her 2019 bid for the Rhode Island Senate election.
“It is really scary as a young person, as a Black person (and) as a queer person to announce a candidacy for any position,” Mack told the university students.
“I knew that the change that I wanted to see and the change that I wanted to access was in the Rhode Island Senate chambers, so that’s where I wanted to be."
Mack secured 60 percent of the vote when she was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 2020.
"I never saw people who looked like me in public office when I was growing up.
"I still find it so hard to believe that I am an elected official because everything I had seen and been told about elected officials was not me," Mack said in an interview with Options Rhode Island.
"I hope more people see and hear my story, resonate with my identities, and use that to either run for office or do something else impactful for their communities."
What are her policies?
Mack is a self-proclaimed advocate for women's health rights and worked to get legislation passed in Rhode Island to codify Roe v Wade.
When she announced her bid for the Senate, Mack said she would work to pass bills designed to provide more LGBTQ rights.
After she was elected to the Senate, Mack told Options she wants to sponsor "LGBTQ-specific legislation."
She added, "I also know that LGBTQ people are impacted by all issues: housing, food insecurity, living wage, quality education.
"I am waiting to get all my bill language back but soon I will announce all the legislation I am sponsoring this year."
She said she will use her position to back policies that would raise the minimum wage, pass affordable housing reforms, and will work to pass the Green New Deal.
The policy would directly affect Rhode Island which is losing an inch of land every eight years due to rising sea levels, according to Sea Level Rise.
“There's going to be no Rhode Island unless we're really thinking about ways that we can create clean and green energy,” Mack told NBC News.
Why was Tiara Mack criticized on TikTok?
A TikTok video of Mack twerking has gone viral, prompting criticism from voters and politicians.
The video was posted on July 4, 2022, as a political stunt with Mack saying Vote Senator Mack before twerking upside down.
The twerking video was captioned, "Promised senator thirst trap at Block Island."
One person commented on the video, writing, “I don’t ever wanna hear you complain about how ‘women aren’t respected in this country’ after posting this."
Mack responded to the comment and wrote, “Honey baby. This ain’t it. Because I have an Ivy League degree and I’m a sitting state senator. It’s not about what I’m wearing. It’s not about what I’m doing. They won’t respect me regardless.”
The video did garner positive responses from users, with one person commenting, "Ignore the haters. You are righteous and compassionate. I would love to have you as my senator; cheering you on from Connecticut."
Another person wrote, "I love that you didn't take it down! I live in GA, but just donated to your reelection campaign."
However, conservative politicians and news outlets responded to the video with negative comments following her post.
Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson criticized Mack before playing the video in his segment on July 5, saying, "You have to wonder why it's left to this show of all places to announce the rising star, the next rising star in the Democratic Party."
Mack responded in a second TikTok video, saying, "Damn. Twerking upside down really makes the conservative, unhinged internet accounts pop off on a Monday.
"Can the media also cover when I won a national championship in May and named MVP of the match?
"Can the media also cover the 10+ bills I sponsored that the Rhode Island Senate never scheduled for a hearing?
"Can the media cover any policy wins had by the youngest Black state senator in Rhode Island?"
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She went on to say, "As a Black, queer woman you all should know the answer. It's no. Let them carry on their narrative.
"Me? I'm going to be joyful, free, and unbothered."
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