Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
My first job after college was teaching at a school for adjudicated teens and kids in the foster care system in Dallas, TX. In many ways, it was the seed which grew up to be Work Wives Global but at the time, I suffered burn-out, mental and emotional exhaustion and my personal life was crumbling in deeply painful ways. The students had not been in school consistently, they didn’t trust adults, some of them had been in 12 foster homes by the time they were 13, some had been removed from their home in the middle of the night, brought to our campus and expected to attend our school in the morning.
I never knew who would be in my class each morning and I learned that most of them hated teachers, because it was a teacher in whom they’d confided or a teacher who reported the abuse. Between the family court dates and the criminal court dates for those in the juvenile justice system, it was hard to keep their attention on the subject I was teaching.
Some of the young women were already mothers in Middle School and my teaching History and Government was the last thing they cared about. Then I decided to teach the Civil Rights Movement from a different angle and when I led with Rosa Parks or young Linda Brown, I had their attention! They dialed in when they learned that one need not be as vocal or visible as Dr. King or Malcolm X, change could happen just by standing ground for the right thing, by listening to the voice inside that guides each of us.
Women who marched for our right to vote. Women who ran for office, marched for equal rights, women who are still fighting to be treated equally, own property, and have access to an education. Women who raised strong women, women who cheer on one another, who understand that when one of us is successful or brave, the road gets wider.
Women who have served in the military, are fighter pilots, working three jobs to pay bills for their children, women who are holding starving babies today and hoping they don’t have to bury another child, women who have escaped sex slavery and some women who are afraid to leave bad relationships. We have walked so many different roads, we who are half the planet.
We are Emma Watson speaking at the UN, Emma Gonzales speaking truth to power in FL, High School girls who want to play on football teams and we are smooshed together on subway cars on our way to the office or hurrying children in cars on the way to school. We are Board members, pilots, makers and healers. We have calluses on our hands or manicured nails. We support one another, cheer on one another, turn to one another, learn from one another and when we look in the mirror or at other women, we are PROUD to be women. We can each empower another woman.
We are not all Gloria Steinem but we can be grateful for the conversations she has started and the pushback she endured. We are not all Malala but we can be grateful for the education we complained about when in school. We are women and today we can celebrate each other. Write an email, send a text, make a call-let another woman know what she means to you or tell her how proud of her you are. Most importantly, adjust your rear view mirror in the car or your bathroom mirror and root down your feet as you look at your reflection.
The little girl you were is proud of the woman she has become.
Now, how can you help others?
Dorothy Johnson, 2018