I often ask myself how I’ve gotten to where I am, and the details always seem to be hazy. After taking a few stabs at self-reflection, I’ve finally been able to sort through the haze and figure out why the critical years of my development are somewhat blurry. The truth stung a little bit, and I winced at the unpleasantness because the truth is that not many people believed in me. From telling me to just smile to “you don’t need to go to college,” I heard it all. I was told that I never would be because I never could be, but that’s not the most challenging part, believe it or not. The hardest part of it all was that when I looked around and searched for heroes, there was no one that I could identify with or even had similar cultural experiences that I did. Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund sums this problem up perfectly.
“You can’t be what you can’t see.”Marian Wright Edelman
Legendary Black feminist writer and activist Barbara Smith captures the struggle of many Black women in a Journal published in 1985 called The Black Scholar.
” When I was growing up, despite my family’s efforts to explain or at least describe attitudes prevalent in the outside world, I often thought that there was something fundamentally wrong with me because it was obvious that me and everyone like me was held in such contempt.”Barbara Smith
As a society, we generally choose to keep women in their place, both consciously and subconsciously. How do I know this? One of the most sobering experiences I’ve had that reaffirmed my realization of this was watching the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and seeing Christine Blasey Ford berated, threatened, publicly humiliated, and ripped apart for speaking the truth. Reality struck me at that moment because this hearing was a reflection of how we, as a society, treat women.
Here’s how we start believing in women.
- We have to stop telling women how to act.
- At a young age, girls should be empowered to be courageous.
- Freedom to make our own way is of the utmost importance.
- Bring back the sisterhood and have each others back. Gender bias between women is almost more dangerous than bias from men.
- Mentorship, exposure, and opportunity are critical.
- Women must have a seat at the table as decision-makers.
Kamala Harris is the first woman and woman of color to ever hold the VP position, and some may wonder why so many women of color are celebrating. I can’t speak for others, but I do believe that witnessing what Black women can achieve tears down the stereotypes that I face every day. Because there was a time when women of color were despised for everything that we celebrate about Kamala Harris.