After a week at the DNC I’ve basically come away with one message: GIRL POWER RULES. I have never been more affirmed, more moved, or more empowered to be a woman than I have this past week.
As I reflect now on the historic moment I witnessed just a few days ago I am still brought to tears, chills on my arms, and my heart beats heavy like I am out of breath. It is a feeling I never want to forget.
But it wasn’t just Hillary accepting the nomination that brought me to tears. There were countless of women I met and had the privilege of listening to that literally lifted me out from my seat during my time at the conventions. Yet, the thing that made me cry the most was the subtle and long overdue realization that I had never really embraced, and I mean fully truly embraced in every part of my body, what it means to be a woman of color. It is a privilege I never really acknowledged I had and a confession I am still timid to admit.
This realization began at the “Democracy in Color” event the WTV cohort attended. It was a panel featuring some of our nations brightest and upcoming women of color in politics. The entire panel was so badass I left feeling like I could take over the world. I cheered when Rep. Stacey Abrams called women of color the “core of the core of progressives”. I physically leapt forward out of my seat when they said that women of color are and have been always the first to say there is more to be done because we’ve know what its like to be on the bottom. I felt genuine gratitude for Supervisor Jane Kim when she explained how she deliberately staffed her entire office with women, mothers no less, of color because she believes in empowering her fellow woman. Perhaps the best moment was when Rep. Nina Turner got out of her seat, impassioned and poised, and declared how her blackness and her womanhood would not be belittled into “campaign decisions” but rather that they are ALL ON PURPOSE. There was an overwhelming sense in that room that each one of these inspiring women embraced with every fiber in them every part of their identity. They did not accept the notion that their color or their gender should deem them less than. These women claimed and owned their whole selves without shame, without fear, without hesitance, and certainly with no apology.
And suddenly I realized that unlike these women I have never fully owned my whole self so unabashedly. I have always been aware of my struggle as a woman. But I have grown up so regularly in White culture that I forgot my own struggle as a woman of color. I was so complicit in my own erasure that I denied my own identity. It was easier to deny and to assimilate than to acknowledge the harsh realities that I know follow me into every room I enter. And I am so privileged to even have had the choice not to realize my own color. But at that moment for the first time I felt proud; I felt glad and even relieved that I was a woman of color. Because suddenly it wasn’t an impediment to my goals it was the motivation to achieve them.
Then on Thursday night, as I sat in the worst possible nosebleed seats, staring at the speakers backs again I cried. Because when I listened to Chelsea talk about her mother and her grandmother I was suddenly taken out of my place in politics. I was taken out of this crazy whirlwind election, the policies, the controversies, the whole spectacle and I was transported to a place where I was nothing but myself as a young Chinese American woman. I fully acknowledging that this was the emotional ploy that the DNC and Hillary campaign wanted to create but I don’t even care. Because in that moment when she said the words “I accept your nomination for the President of the United States” I felt so proud to be a woman.
And even though I still have my list of qualms with Hillary and certainly her winning the nomination means very little to our young girls of color, I am still moved. Because like the thousands of women before her Hillary has helped pave a path towards a day when every woman, beautifully colored or not, can enter a room and own their whole selves without shame, without fear, without hesitance, and with no apology.
So this is my confession, my emblem, my thank you note, and my love letter to all the women in my life, and to all those that have fought tirelessly for our freedoms and continue to defy and redefine the very definition of “woman”. I love you, and I am sorry it took me so long to own my true self. But I’ve never been more ready than now to break every damn glass ceiling to come.