This past week, Muslim Girl attended the White House Summit on Women. It was monumental for me, for more reasons than one.
I can’t explain what it was like to be standing face to face with my childhood hero. It seems watered down and over used to say speechless, or that I had chills, or that I felt like I was my six year old self in the audience, standing in front of the woman who inspired my childhood self to choose a career in broadcast.
I can say that I had to remind myself to breathe. I cried; I couldn’t believe I was in the presence of the woman who inspired by entire career path.
Even as a young black girl, I was very aware of the fact that there were very few people who looked like me on TV. And those that did look like me, often were not portrayed in the most positive light.
But Oprah had her own light. She wasn’t a sidekick, or a behind the scenes person; she was the whole entire show. She was herself. Amidst all the racial slurs and fat-shaming comments that were hurled at her, she hosted what I would consider to be the best talk show on cable TV. I remember discovering an interview she had done with neo-Nazis early on in her career, and it was then that I knew Oprah was everything that I wanted to be.
And there she was in front of me, this woman who had inspired my whole entire life. Not only that, but there she was with the first black First Lady and the first black President.
I’ve been to conferences. I’ve been to exclusive conferences; conferences that are painted as being prestigious, and all of that jazz…but there is something so bland about being spoken to by an all white panel. I’ve grown so tired of seeing the same faces, and hearing the same things. At one conference, I spoke along side the first female Prime Minister of Canada, and I had to speak up and say how irrelevant it was to me that she had been Prime Minister. Gender equity only means so much; she still shared an ultra-conservative white feminist perspective on the world.
This conference was not just a conference. And the fact that I was there with Muslim Girl made it that much more powerful.
So what did I take away from the conference? That we were on the right path. What we’re doing here at Muslim Girl surprises me everyday, but that conference was the affirmation that the changes we were making were being recognized. And that this was necessary.
Here’s to the dreamers, the doers, and the disrupters. Keep on keeping on.