by Jennifer Fitta · 24 Sep 2020 · 6 min read
Growing up, every image depicted around me gave the message that most dark girls were ugly. So, when people would say, "You're pretty for a dark-skinned girl," I took it as a compliment.
A few months after I left my corporate job as the Head of Merchandising for Old Navy Online, I walked into the Everlane concept store in preparation for an upcoming meeting at their corporate office. As I looked around trying to find an outfit, a feeling of alienation came over me. From the perky twenty-something sales associate that looked at me askance when I walked in, to the array of androgynous, box-llooking, nondescript apparel, it was clear that I didn't belong. I finally landed on a streamlined navy dress that was seemingly appropriate for my meeting — a nothing special, medium quality, basic dress that felt like a millennial uniform. I never wore that dress again.
I was about one month into my dream job as a forensic psychologist in a remand facility for adolescent girls in Brooklyn, New York. Unlike my old job, this one did not offer a parking lot for employees, but I was issued a state parking plaque to use in front of the building when there was space. However, that employee-issued parking plaque was enough illicit the suspicion and disbelief of the NYPD leading to me getting wrongfully arrested and detained for two nights. This experience was not the only instance of racial discrimination in my life, and it certainly was not my last as an employee. I chose to tell this one as it was, sort of, my official introduction to life in America as an educated, African-American woman.
Women in the Western world have been sold a faulty dream. Raised in families that encouraged us to be strong and independent, we've strived to become successful — to reach the top — in a world that wasn't designed for us. This is myth of empowerment, and I'll be exploring its true cost for all women.
The world is undergoing a political revolution and is desperately in need of leadership. People who I call New Citizens are sick of waiting on deadlocked democracies to solve social and economic problems centuries in the making. From the left, right, and center, New Citizens no longer trust their political establishment to enact real change. They are taking matters into their own hands. Leaderless networks of New Citizens circulate information and organize action on social media. From the Yellow Vest movement in France to civil rights causes in the U.S. to the post-disaster protests in Lebanon, New Citizens come from all ages, cultures, and political perspectives. What they share is the implicit demand for a new social order that can solve globalized threats, digitize civic life, and hold elected officials accountable to their constituents.
A review of the discriminatory stereotypes placed on independent women.Stop shaming independent women with fear mongering and wrongful stereotypes about isolation. Independence does not, and I repeat, does not equate to a life of isolation. Society has encouraged a dated and discriminatory picture of what a woman's life should look like in each decade of her life. These harmful stereotypes are not just unrealistic but also can cause confusion and distress when our lives do not perfectly align with these outdated ideals...
I was one of the entrepreneurs lucky enough to enter the cannabis industry at the start of the green rush. From the beginning, I was often one of the only women in the room, whether the meeting was about everyday business practices or government policies. The disparity was even more pronounced at industry conferences where I was one of only a few female executives in a sea of male entrepreneurs. Female leaders are still widely underrepresented in many mainstream industries, and I believe it is time to challenge this archaic precedent within the cannabis space.
The girl I saw had a bright, beautiful face and big expressive eyes. She was standing outside the school gates, clinging to the fence with her fingers laced through the wires and peering in longingly. I knew that this young girl, who I later learned is named Srelin, was not being brought into the school to be enrolled, and I wondered if she ever would be. It was a moment of reflection as I realized that the world would never see the boundless potential she possessed if she was barred from education. I knew in that moment that providing girls like Srelin the tools for self-empowerment was the way that her community, indeed our world, could change for the better.
After I exchanged enough information with the Uber driver to confirm that neither one of us was likely a serial killer, the spotless sedan was quickly filled with enough small talk to occupy the brief ride. "What do you do?" "I'm a writer." "Ah, what do you write?" At the time, I was deep in writing my debut non-fiction book, Raising the Resistance: A Mother's Guide to Practical Activism, and had been busy typing away about feminism, reproductive justice, antiracism, and other topics that don't normally come up during a short Uber ride with a stranger but had consumed my work and much of my life. "I'm writing a book," I responded. "Oh! About what?" "Motherhood and political activism."