Let’s Talk About it: International Women’s Day

Throughout history many women have been denied a voice, recognition, equal pay, and equal respect. Even though international Women’s day just recently passed, I wanted to highlight a few women who are setting the tone for all of us to have a voice. These remarkable ladies have been showing their strength and resistance, while gracefully being incredible  human beings. The first person I wanted to highlight is Linda Sarsour. Sarsour was born as a Palestinian Muslim American in Brooklyn, New York. She is known for being the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; fighting for racial justice, Sarsour also co-founded the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change, and she was the Co-chair of the 2017 Women's March. Linda Sarsour is also known for collaborating with artists to help reform and rebuild the integrity of the NYPD and criminal justice system. Not one to sit back and watch politics unfold, Sarsour was at the forefront of her civil rights campaign. Her campaigns touched on issues such as fighting for women’s rights, ending unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities, and trying to end police policies such as stop and frisk. Quotes like “You can’t be feminist in U.S. and raised for the rights of the American women and then say that you don’t want to stand up for rights of women in Palestine. It is all connected,” signifies why the Obama administration called Sarsour a “champion of change”.

Linda Sarsour  illustrates strength through her words, her movement, her grace, and her ability to not give up. Linda has never sacrificed or compensated her religion and beliefs for her work. Sarsour is a role model to numerous girls and women nationwide, and for that I thank her.

When we think of Black women who have made a change in communities across the U.S., many people think of Alicia Garza, the founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Garza is a proud, queer, social-justice activist born in Oakland, California. She rose to fame after her co-founding the Black Lives Matter organization with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The #BlackLivesMatter movement, which was a revolutionary response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

Aside from her BLM movement, Garza has been involved with other social issues such as rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, issues of health and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Garza was the former Director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, Mrs. Garza is the Director of Special Projects at National Domestic Workers Alliance. Alicia Garza was the former Director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights in the San Francisco Bay Area she was also part of stopping the Bay Area Rapid Transit, by reflecting on the death of Michael Brown. She discussed how his body which was neglected in the road after he was killed. Finally, Garza has been granted twice the Harvey Milk Democratic Club the Bayard Rustin Community Activist Award for condemning racism and gentrification. I chose Alicia Garza because of her strength in liberating social injustices while also being a force to reckon with. As a woman who is in an environment that does not favor Black people specifically black women, I wholeheartedly thank Alicia Garza for her bravery and for breaking social norms.

Finally, the amazing Ava DuVernay! she was born in Long Beach, Califonia. DuVernay is a UCLA graduate who founded ARRAY and African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). These organizations advocate for independent Black filmmakers. The organizations also help new film directors to start their business. Prior to film, Ava worked as a marketer and publicity for 14 years. During this time she was vocal about the lack of equality women had in the industry and the exclusion of minorities in media and film.

Some of DuVernay’s accolades are that she sits on the boards of both Sundance Institute and Film Independent. DuVernay was the director of the civil rights film Selma which received four  Golden Globe nominations and two Academy Award nominations. Ava was the first black female to direct a film with a $100 million budget. Talk about breaking barriers and opening doors for other women of color! Ava DuVernay wrote, produced and directed the dramatic feature, Middle of Nowhere, which earned her the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Best Director Award. Moreover Jay-Z’s music video, Family Feud was also directed by Ava. August 28: A Day in the Life of a People, a short film commissioned by Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture was also an Ava production. For her time and dedication, we thank you Ava DuVernay. Hopefully, more ladies will get in formation and follow your lead. I am very happy to retell a synopsis of your achievements. It is motivating and breathtaking that you have achieved so much.

In closing, I want to challenge you to find three remarkable women in your life; whether it is your mom, professor, or counselor and give them recognition for their achievements. Show future and current generations that women can uplift each other, not tear each other down. Show them that we are stronger in numbers than we are individually and show them that without women, life would be incomplete!

Photo by Kaniz Sheikh