Cydney Walker: Bridging the gender gap
Cydney Walker is the Founder and Host of Coffee and Politics 101, a grassroots video series that focuses on sharing information regarding local and state politics relevant in North Texas. With almost 2,000 followers, Coffee and Politics 101 is the go-to resource for voters to gain access to candidates, elected officials, and policy experts taking part in discussions on hot-button topics. As a now-retired dietician, Cydney dedicates herself full-time to Coffee and Politics 101, airing a new episode each week. With each discussion Cydney posts, she is takings steps towards bridging the gap between men and women in politics.
Cydney was born and raised by her grandparents in Dallas, Texas, where she did not grow up in a politically-active household. In fact, Cydney wasn’t exposed to the inter-workings of politics until graduate school, when she visited the Texas State Capitol during the 2000 legislative session. As a dietician-in-training at the time, Cydney advocated for a bill that would create a new billing code for dieticians, giving them the ability to bill major insurance companies for their time as “medical nutrition therapy.” Prior to the introduction, and sequential passage of this billing code bill, only physicians, nurses, and distinct medical professionals could bill for services—dieticians were not able to bill medical insurance companies for their time. This bill was important to Cydney because services provided by dieticians were not covered by medical insurance, leaving out marginalized communities who rely on insurance coverage for all health services. Without insurance coverage for services provided by dieticians, the more secluded dieticians would become from communities who could benefit nutritional therapy.
After her experience successfully advocating for a new dietician billing code, Cydney began to recognize the complex inner-workings of politics, specifically as it pertains to local and state politics. In March 2016, right before the presidential (and statewide) primary runoffs, Cydney was inspired to begin exploring more of what she had uncovered about “behind-the-scenes” politics. Cydney and her colleagues decided to host her own conversation between candidates in the run-off for local races. During the conversation, an audience member posted a video of the event which was well-accepted by online audience members. With her online following asking for more conversations, Cydney decided to create Coffee and Politics 101.
When Cydney and her colleagues first cultivated Coffee and Politics 101, she was incredibly nervous but knew that audience viewers would be interested in the topics she yearned to discuss and present to the community. Cydney’s goal was to help people understand how government functions and what each governmental position or entity contributes to society. With an apparent low voter turnout in, what Cydney describes as “off-cycle elections,” Cydney is hoping that Coffee and Politics 101 will serve as an educational resource for her audience to better grasp the power dynamic between leaders and their communities. However, while Cydney has been embraced by many of her viewers, she has seen her fair share of backlash, especially from men or non-people of color. Cydney believes she faces this backlash because she is a woman—her naysayers constantly demanding her to change different aspects of her show. Even in the face of despise, Cydney believes the best thing to do is try to understand where people are coming from yet remaining firm to her beliefs.
With politics being a male-dominant scene, Cydney believes that women in politics play a different role, more so than a challenging role. Personally, Cydney never approaches a confrontational situation by dealing with someone in a specific manner based on their identity. Instead, she finds it more important to “meet [people] where they are.” By doing so, Cydney believes she is creating more bridges than divided, specifically noting “until there is a female majority, we have to relate to the current folks in office.” Even though Cydney may be bridging gaps between the man and woman divide in politics, Cydney advises women to “make your plan and stick with your plan—people will offer advice about what you should do but stick with your plan.”
To view Coffee and Politics 101, please visit https://www.facebook.com/coffeeandpoliticsonline/