In honor of the new year, staff writer Jasmine Simmons decided to pay tribute to all the women of 2018 that made her year special.
¨I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right. You owe me an apology.¨
Serena Williams is known as a world renowned tennis player and one of the most dominant athletes of all time. She is known for her grace, power, and resilience. However, this past September at the US Open during the finals the referee made some calls that she felt questioned her integrity. He gave her multiple penalties, one for receiving coaching, another for smashing her racket, and then a final one for verbal abuse. Throughout the whole endeavor, Serena was furious that the referee had attacked her character and in the midst of it all, called him a thief. For this she received the penalty for verbal abuse which ultimately sealed the fate of the match. There are many issues with what occurred during this event, most importantly that Serena never received a warning, and also that men say much worse things to umpires and receive no type of repercussions. Anyone else who watched this knows how deep the emotion was in Serena and how much you could see her anger and frustration. As I reflected on what happened I realized that what Serena did was very important. Serena was not willing to let the umpire, who in this situation was in a position of power over her, question her integrity, or quiet her down. Although the events that happened this day were controversial, there is no doubt that Serena stood for what she believed in and called attention to some of the inequalities in tennis. As a girl who actively plays sports and has experienced some sexism in girls athletics, Serena inspired me to speak out more about these issues and try to make a change. Serena continues to be a figure of black excellence and power, one of the more recent showings of this is her being the first woman to wear cornrows on teen vogue magazine this December. She is proud of who she is and is one who will keep fighting for change and equality, and she inspires me to do the same.
¨Everything we’ve done and everything we will do is for them. It’s for ourselves. It’s for every person who has gone through anything similar to this, for every person who hasn’t yet, for every person who never will. This isn’t something we are ever going to forget about. This isn’t something we are ever going to give up on.¨
Emma Gonzalez is an 18 year old who was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland, Florida when there was a mass shooting there this past February. As it would be for anyone, it was a devastating experience for her filled with grief, sadness, and trauma, but also anger. She was angry about the circumstances that led the shooter to be able to kill seventeen people in her high school. In the days following the shooting, she gave a speech at a gun control rally and then was asked by her friend, Cameron Kasky, to join him in forming a group dedicated to ending gun violence. This group would later be named The March for Our Lives. Throughout 208 Emma has given public speeches, spoken on the news, marched, and written a book. She advocates for the empowerment of the younger generation and to stand up against the government and take matters into our own hands. I see her as an amazingly courageous person. An eighteen-year-old girl who has received death threats from grown men but refuses to back down. For me, it is easy to feel like I don´t have a say in what goes on in this country, that I do not have a voice. Emma has shown me that no matter what your age, background, or identity, you can make a change in this world and in this country. In the wake of tragedy, she and her peers started a movement and are determined not to stop until adequate gun control is achieved.
The Mid-term Elections
There were many women of color that made advances during the 2018 midterm elections as a part of the largest number of women elected ever. These are some of the women who made history. Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native american women to ever be elected to congress. Haaland won New Mexico´s first district and is a member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe. Davids was technically the first Native american woman to be elected and won the third congressional district of Kansas. She is a member of Wisconsin´s Ho-Chunk Nation tribe and also an open lesbian, and the first LGBT congress member from Kansas. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim women in Congress. Tlaib won Michigan’s thirteenth congressional district and Omar was elected to represent Minnesota´s fifth congressional district. Ayanna Pressley became the first woman of color to be elected as a representative in Massachussetts as well as Jahana Hayes in Connecticut. And 29 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes from the Bronx, became the youngest woman ever elected to congress. These women made history this fall. Besides representing their districts and states, they also represent their cultural communities and women in general in a government that has been run primarily by white men. They have made themselves an outlet for groups that may otherwise be ignored and I deeply respect them for being that source of a voice. They are also paving the way for young women of color to advance and feel more comfortable and willing to go into politics. I deeply admire the trailblazing that these women have done in 2018.
Women of Color in My Life
Lastly, I would like to say thank you to the women of color that have inspired me every day throughout 2018. My biology and geometry teachers, Dr. Encarnacao and Ms. Minort-Kale, who encouraged and supported me throughout freshman year and were role models for me as women of color in STEM. My coaches who push me to excel in sports and school. My friends and fellow girls of color with whom I can share laughs and experiences and struggles. They are always there for me as an outlet and community in a predominantly white school. Also my mother, sister, grandmothers, and aunts who have shown me how to be strong and unapologetic and who support me and love me unconditionally. They all inspire me to become the best version of myself possible.