Trump is threatening the rights and well-being of adolescent girls domestically and globally, especially those whose skin color, religion and country of origin do not meet his approval. The person holding the most powerful and prestigious office in one of the most influential global nations is a sex offender who fetishes his daughter, believes “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing” and views girls and women as a sum of their sexual parts. He is now turning this disgusting misogyny and racism, xenophobia and many other forms of hate, into policy.
My work as an advocate for girls just got a lot harder.
My work, like all work, begins at home. I visibly resist hate for and with my own daughters, two immigrants of color who are growing up in a time when integral parts of their identity are being challenged. They, and all girls in my life, must see me modeling contested truths: black lives matter, native lives matter and refugee lives matter; women’s rights are human rights; no human being is illegal and love is love is love is love.
This work extends to the community and involves protests and phone calls, letter writing and teach-ins. It means knowing when to call-out folks who don’t want to understand and when to call-in folks who do. It means spending less so I can donate more. It entails applying my talents while listening to women of color, native women, refugee women, single mothers and all those who have known all along what many of us (especially us white women) struggle to see: we do not have equal rights or social standing. We are still the second sex.
In my professional realm, I resist the trends that bring us farther away from a time “in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned.” Ivanka Trump’s brand of privileged empowerment won’t work for girls in Flint who don’t have clean water or girls living on Pine Ridge where teenage suicide rates are 150% higher than the national average.
And Ivanka’s work hosting the Miss Teen USA pageant couldn’t be farther from my work advocating for the rights and wellbeing of refugee girls in the Middle East, those same girls who were just banned from the United States by her father. I turn away from this elite distraction and focus on issues like ending child marriage, access to quality education and stopping sexual violence. Over the next four years, I will do more with less funding. I will work unpaid hours and volunteer for organizations with less resources. I will connect more directly with girls because ultimately I work for them.
I commit to standing between the misogyny of the most powerful man in the world and the most marginalized and vulnerable girls in the world.
This is my work today. In the future, my work might be deciphering just laws from unjust laws and following my conscience. Trump has asked for the names of those working on gender programs. If my name is on his list, I invite him to call me with questions so that I have the opportunity to tell him that I stand for girls, for adolescents like the ones he violated with his gaze in a dressing room. I’ll keep standing for girls. If he and his supporters try to stop me, I will continue to resist, I will continue to take direct action and I will not be silenced.
What can you do for girls?
Volunteer: Girls, Inc., Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Girl Scouts, YWCA all provide opportunities to connect adults with girls in their community. The Malala Fund has resources for community organizing on the rights of girls globally.
Donate: Find an organization that you believe in and give what you can. As we learned from Bernie Sanders, who broke a fundraising record via small donations, every little bit truly counts.
Connect with other resisters: We are indeed stronger together.