Why I stand with Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Speaker Emeritus, Sheila Y. Oliver, and 100 diverse nonpartisan female leaders, to denounce Trump and ask Chris Christie to resign as Trump’s transition team Chair:
Under the leadership of New Jersey’s first African-American Congresswoman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and its first African-American female Assembly Speaker, Sheila Y. Oliver, and about 100 diverse nonpartisan women leaders throughout the state, are all joining to denounce Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump and his supporters. Together we call ourselves Women Against Sexual Harassment (WASH) and are pledging to “WASH” our country clean of misogyny along with racial, age and religious biases in government.
On October 20, 2016, at 12:00 PM we will be on the steps of the State House in Trenton to speak out against Trump and Governor Christie. We are asking women and men throughout the state to “walk out” of their office buildings or homes from 12 PM- 1 PM and stand on the sides of streets throughout New Jersey in solidarity. We are also asking women who support this effort not to shop for 24 hours beginning at 8:00 AM October 20th to 8:00 AM October 21st. #WASH
I once heard a report on Bloomberg Radio that said, “Millennial woman are the first generation of women to have the same amount of confidence as their male counterparts. There is no fear of incompetency, and they seek out both male and female mentors to help them in their careers. Furthermore, millennial men do not have a superiority complex, and they see the playing field as even.” As a millennial, I agreed with the report based on my experiences. I am blessed to have fabulous mentors of all ages and genders; in fact, each of my male mentors regardless of generation (Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, LeRoy Jones, Jr., Harold Simon to name a few) are all feminist. In my career, I am surrounded by these esteemed respectful men whom always encourage me to rise to the challenge and lead. However, as a result of their inclusionary presence, I developed a false impression of the realities of sexism and underestimated its prevalence in today’s workplace and political arena.
I had not experienced blatant sexism until I took on a position of power that so many coveted. Upon being sworn-in as the legislative leader of one of the largest counties in the State with a budget of over $700 million, thereby, making me the youngest and only current sitting African-American female Freeholder President in New Jersey, I quickly experienced various biases, sexism, and misogyny. I gained a greater understanding, through experience, that sexism is real; though it may not always be as glaringly blatant as a man popping a tick tack to plant a forced kiss on a woman, or grabbing her by the…well we all know what Trump said, it shows up through comments, gestures, and attempted intimidation and exclusion.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, in 2014, women filed 19,605 cases commonly alleging workplace harassment, discharge, and sexual harassment. The workplace is not the only place sexism exists: According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, each year, an estimated 25,000 American women will become pregnant following an act of sexual violence. According to the Bureau of Justice, statistics on average, three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in the United States. And, according to the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13.3 percent of college women say they have been forced to have sex in a dating situation.
The words of Donald Trump are disgusting and cannot be tolerated. Brushing off his remarks about women as “locker room talk” promotes the objectifying of women while supporting a rape culture. Even if it is “locker room talk,” why would our society tolerate such a thing? Why would we want a man like that in the most prestigious office in the free world? Furthermore, why would we want a governor who supports him?
Everyday, I overcome and step on agism, racism and sexism, but these issues still plague our nation and the world. Often while talking with other women facing similar issues, the conversation grows solemn when a woman says, “this is how things are, what can we do?” To the women out there feeling helpless steeped in a false mandate to accept this type of behavior, October 20, 2016, and forever, we are asking you to stand with WASH. It starts with denouncing Trump and his supporters. I commend leaders like Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Y. Oliver for leading the charge and encourage men to stand with us too. For more information about WASH, call (888) 859-3362. #WASH