I was born with a hatred for violence. My mom says she and my dad watched Desert Storm footage while she labored with me in the hospital.
When I turned two, Bill Clinton was promoted from Governor to President. On my tenth birthday, George W. Bush was sworn in. Although I was unable to vote for him the first time, I watched Barack Obama become America’s first black Commander in Chief on the same day I entered adulthood.
January 20, 2017, a date which will live in infamy. It may seem wrong to compare the Inauguration to a day in which so many American’s lost their lives amidst a World War, but hear me out — The President of the United States is capable of starting the next World War with a 3:00am tweet.
Today we’re taking a leap back in time to a 1950s America where women are seen but not heard, and people of color are forced to the back of the bus, or worse, back over The Wall.
I will not be silent. I will be heard. I will make a difference.
I wrote those words on my 26th birthday. Following the 2016 Election, I began to question everything I’ve ever known or loved about the United States of America.
I’m writing these words just before I turn thirty. In a few days, Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as leader of the Executive Branch. It’s a positive move for our country, but we are far from where we need to be, and my work has only begun. To tell the story of why I want to pursue a Doctorate in Social Justice Policy, we have to examine the outgoing administration and the rippling effects it will have on marginalized and minority groups for generations to come.
The first time I heard the following words, spoken by Donald J. Trump,
“Grab em by the pussy.”
I felt as if I was back at Cain’s Ballroom, where my sexual assault occurred. I was in a crowd at a concert when a complete stranger, felt so entitled to my body, that he reached up my dress and quite literally, grabbed me by the pussy.
When Hillary Clinton lost, I felt a dream within myself die. If a woman who has devoted her entire life to serving her country and working in public office and the non-profit sector loses to a man in his seventies with no prior experience, who had a record of bad business practices, then I couldn’t see how any woman could ever break that ceiling. The day after I turned 26, millions of women took to the streets in pink pussy hats and my faith was restored.
The last four years have been a steady, predictable decline leading to horrific displays of violence and white supremacy. In Charlottesville, KKK leaders and Neo-Nazis marched proudly through the campus at the University of Virginia. George Floyd was murdered when a police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was asleep in her own home when she was shot and killed by police. A police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times, paralyzing him.
These acts of racial violence stem from a broken system that was built on the backs of minorities, and it is time we fix the system. Seeing this brutality transpire on video inspired a renewed vigor for the Black Lives Matter movement, which was met with a militarized police presence and excessive force.
The year 2020 was a perfect storm, and it became a catalyst for change. Due to the mishandling of COVID-19, a vast majority of Americans were stuck in our homes watching one racist attack after another unfold.
This is the first time in modern history that time sort of stood still for the average person. I was a victim of the first round of layoffs in March, so I spent the next several months evaluating my life and planning my next move while I watched the world around me burn.
I felt helpless, but a deep sense to act. How can I be part of the solution? How can I devote my life to being a change agent? This program is my first step toward changing the world. I hope you’ll admit me; I’m ready to put in the work.