By Sarah D. Wire
April 30, 2017 | REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON
Rep. Maxine Waters knows what “throwing shade” means now. She urges people to “stay woke.”
In the past few months, young people have embraced 78-year-old Waters and her acerbic comments about President Trump, bringing the Los Angeles Democrat national fame in her 14th term, and a new nickname: Auntie Maxine.
“It’s unusual for elected officials to step outside of the box,” Waters said in an interview. “The millennials keep telling me for the most part they’ve never heard someone talk like that before.”
Since refusing to attend Trump’s inauguration, Waters, the longest-serving black woman in the House, has achieved icon-level status. Her image and quotes appear on T-shirts and posters. Twitter and Facebook are full of people rubbing their virtual hands in glee at what she might say next.
“When I grow up, I want to be @MaxineWaters. Thank you, Rep. Waters, for being unafraid to speak the truth,” Crystal Webb, a young Twitter user, posted.
“On a different note, @MaxineWaters clap black game is sooooo strong!! #goals,” said another.
“Anyone think Auntie @MaxineWaters is a hero?,” asked another.
Young black activists in particular see a powerful and familiar figure in the impeccably dressed older woman expressing her opinion, even if it might be painfully honest, said Rashad Robinson, who leads the New York-based Color of Change, a progressive civil rights group.
“Maxine Waters has given us the viral videos to go along with our rants,” Robinson said. “People are shaking their heads when she talks, and they are saying, ‘Thank God someone said that.’
“I think for many young black folks, they have that sort of auntie or matriarch in their family that sort of says it like it is,” Robinson said.