Today is March 8, 2019. It is a Friday. It looks like it is going to rain. And it also just so happens to be International Woman’s Day. And while that might not mean anything to you now, it is my sincere hope that you recognize the significance and the importance of it at some point later in your life.
International Woman’s Day has been a day recognized by the UN for many years now. It is a day to celebrate the achievement of women, to advocate for their advancement in our society and to denounce things like sexism and misogyny. It is a day that you should get behind. It is a day you should be a part of pushing it forward. To make it visible throughout our nation- especially in the parts of our country where you are challenged the most.
I have never before written a letter to my female students on IWD. However, IWD now takes on a more pressing tone, in your teacher’s humble opinion. There is a sense of urgency because we have a misogynist in our White House (when we should have a woman there). We have a man who openly boasts of sexual assault and called it locker room talk. We have a man who does not see you as his equal simply because you are a woman and he is a man. This is one of the many reasons I do not and will not support the man-child in the White House.
To put it more plainly, I choose to believe you. I will believe you and stand with you and do everything within my power to help you if you ever find yourself in a place where someone does something you do not consent to. I will be in your corner in every way possible. I will silence those who say you were asking for it or that you had it coming. I will drown out the chorus of idiots who try to blame you for drinking too much or wearing a skirt that is too short. All you have to do is be brave, hold your head high (because you did nothing wrong), and ask for help. I will come and help you- no questions asked and no judgments made. I will believe you.
Since we live in South Carolina, I think it is only fair you know something. South Carolina ranks in the top 5 for states with the worst domestic violence rates. At first, this statistic surprised me, but after 7 years of observation, while teaching, it no longer does. I have seen far too many of my boys harm (both intentionally and unintentionally) my girls. Whether it be verbally or physically, I have seen some of you be used and abused. Some of you could see it and some of you could not see it. Which is why I will remind you after I will believe you.
I will remind you that you should be uplifted and celebrated and loved. I will remind you that you should treat each other as sisters and lift yourselves up together instead of putting each other down. I will remind you that your body is yours and it cannot be taken or hit and that any man who tries do either is not a man at all. I will remind you of your worth and I will remind you of his weakness. I will remind you that any man who does not see you as his equal is not worth your time, money, or love. I will remind you by telling you things like Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backward and in high heels. I will remind you of all of this, each time you doubt yourself and each time you stumble off the path of greatness you were destined for. I will remind you.
Finally, my young ladies, I will help you, and in order to do that, I must first be honest with you. Please allow me to check my privilege society affords me as a male and just tell you some things as straightforward as I can. Life is not always going to be easy for you. In some aspects of life, you have a strike against you before you even start. Since many of you are young ladies of color, many of you have two strikes against you. These strikes are simply because you are female. Is it fair? Hell no, it is not! Is it the way it is sometimes in our society? Yes, but not for long. It won’t be that way for long because I will help you. I will help you break down doors, barriers, glass ceilings, and whatever else the sexists and misogynists of the world throw your way. I will help educate those who think a woman in a position of power is dangerous or nothing more than a bitch. I will help you point out those who seek to do you and other women harm. I will be a cheerleader supporter, and source of advice should you ever need it for as long as I live.
So with all that said, girls just remember this: You are worthy. You are equal. You are a badass. You are smart. You are amazing. and You are strong. I know all of these to be true because I have amazing women in my life. I have learned many things from all of them, including the fact that I have yet to meet a man who was as strong as my mother, grandmothers, aunts, great aunts, and cousins. I hope you remember those things, but should you ever forget, I will remind you.
I will remind you. I will believe you. I will help you.
I will do all three of those things as much as I need to, but you won’t need it. You won’t need it because of who you are. You won’t need it because of who your sisters are. Your sisters have made herstory.
Your sisters helped put a man on the moon. Your sister helped end segregation. Your sister helped defeat the Taliban. Your sister defeated the Spanish Armada. Your sisters ran,
Happy International Woman’s Day to my future