While last night may have been a doozy for half of our nation, it also felt very fitting for 2016. This year has not gone as planned in any aspect. It’s been a weird roller coaster of events, emotions and transition. There are a lot of things wrong with our country and our world. And a lot of things that don’t seem to be getting any better.
Whether you liked this election or not, I think anyone will agree this moment is one where we can point to and say, “See – this is proof women and men are not judged by the same standards.” I don’t care about opinions on emails and adulterous behavior, from either side. But I am so deeply, personally effected by the way women and minorities are spoken about, spoken to and spoken for.
I am the daughter of an American immigrant – a Hispanic female in a world that values us least. The only group that has it worse, is African American women. I’m not speculating about this, I’m not speaking from data. A 2016 Women in the Workplace study finds that women of color are not only paid less than white women – who are still paid less than males – but also are the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline. They make up 20 percent of the U.S. population and only 3 percent of C-suite positions. Women of color don’t get as many challenging assignments, or inclusion in important decisions. And that old adage that women don’t negotiate as much or as well as men? Wrong. We do. But we are often penalized for it.
I used to be proud to be a Hispanic female. I was proud my dad came to our country and became a citizen. I was proud of my family that merged cultures and raised me with an understanding that diversity is powerful.
I would eagerly pencil in the circles for “HISPANIC” and “FEMALE” onto any scan-tron or job application.
“Hello reviewer! Diversity is POWERFUL!” I would think.
But I don’t think that any more.
I have my own stories of discrimination – and let’s be real, they aren’t even that bad. But I have them. And I know others who have them. And I know even more people who know about the racists, sexist and discriminatory actions against women and minorities and still do nothing. And that is the worst behavior I can attest to.
So now I fill in the circle for “Do Not Wish To Disclose.”
It’s shameful. But the truth is a disadvantage. So what are my options?
2016 may be the year of harsh realities, unfortunately outcomes and the Cubs World Series win (this was our silver lining, guys… take it). But it is also the year of my own personal awakening.
I cannot be silent to issues that rock me to my core. I cannot be a private champion for inclusion and equity (and neither should you!) because that has clearly gotten us no where. So I will be vocal. And I will be focused. And I will find opportunities and work and passion in the place where I also find purpose: Advocating for human equality.
This nation need some work, for sure. We are divisive, we are dated and we are a little too angry. But I’m digging in my heels. I’m not moving to Canada or stepping off this soap box. I’m here for the long run. Today, I’m etching my name into stone – committing myself for as long as I have the ability to make sure I am an ally, and advocate, and an active citizen who is demanding equality and civil treatment, for all.