Editor’s Note: On September 6-7, 2018, The California Endowment hosted the #Fight4All Convening in Fresno, California. This convening was meant to reaffirm their Fight For All initiative, which was created in December 2016. Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment said, “The Fight for All fund was created to stand alongside those whose health and lives are threatened by attacks on their coverage, their immigration status, or simply on who they are as human beings. So our support for lifting up their voices will not skip a beat today, but will continue forward.”
I had the privilege of attending the #Fight4All convening and interviewing many of the incredible speakers, but I was most excited to get to speak to none other than Linda Sarsour.
A strong and courageous political activist who not only fights for her community, but for what is right, Sarsour is an influential and positive role model for youth everywhere. Hearing her speak empowered me and made me want to do more as a women of color.
When I asked her what she would say to young people following in her footsteps, she explained to me how we are not only following in her footsteps, but she is also following in ours.
“Many young people are actually setting the example for people like me to be bold and fierce in this moment,” Sarsour said.
Sarsour not only went to the Women’s March, but was the co-chair for the 2017 March. We talked a bit about the Women’s March here in Fresno, and Sarsour said something very memorable to me made me want to keep fighting with and for my fellow women.
She said, “It’s a movement that continues to evolve as we’re trying to organize communities who never have organized together – in particularly white women and women of color. So, it’s been hard, but it’s been inspiring. It’s been difficult, but it’s been effective. I’m very proud to be building power amongst women in America.”
Building community among women is so important and she knew that this is a time when it is most vital and significant.
Linda Sarsour is not only a strong and powerful woman, but she is also a woman of color and I asked if she would touch on the topic of being a woman of color and a political activist. She said:
“It’s a very difficult moment for women of color [that are] political activist. But there have been many times in the past where it was also difficult to be a woman of color. A black woman, or an indigenous woman. A political activist. For me, I remember that I, too, stand on the shoulders of people who sacrificed for me to be able to do this work and to be a political activist. It means taking a lot of risks. It means not being safe in some spaces. But it’s worth it because our people are counting on us. We are the leaders of this moment and we are the communities and women who represent the most pained communities, the most traumatized communities. And we believe that those who are closest to the pain are closest to the solution. So right now, we are in a moment where women of color are leading the charge in pretty much every movement whether it be environmental justice, immigrant rights, even around issues of women’s rights. And obviously civil rights and criminal justice reform and I think that’s why we’re actually seeing a lot more progress in a lot of these movements.”
To me, her most memorable line from that response was, “And we believe that those who are closest to the pain are closest to the solution.”
This spoke to me because, as a woman of color, I also know the challenges that come into play and the struggles as well. As a women of color I know that my voice won’t be shown in the media as much as a white male’s voice.
During our time together, I also asked for her to look into the future and imagine what she wanted the world to look like for her children.
“I wish for my children to live in a country that treats every single human being who resides here with dignity and respect,” Sarsour said. “And that my children can go to the highest skyscraper in New York City and proclaim loudly and proudly at the top of it, that they are proud Palestinian Muslim-Americans born and raised in Brooklyn with the full confidence that they deserve to have…
I want every child in American to be able to say ‘I’m black,’ ‘I’m brown,’ ‘I’m queer,’ ‘I’m LGBTQ,’ ‘I’m a person with disability,’” she continues. “So proud and so loud. Not only survive in this country, but really thrive. I want my children to have all the access that their name shouldn’t matter. Their religion, how they look shouldn’t matter. And I think we’re kind of really far away from there, but I think eventually that will happen with all of us.”
Linda Sarsour wants what we all want, and that simply is to be happy and have the freedom to be who we are. Sarsour encourages all youth to fight for what is right, because they (we) are the future.