One of the most unique experiences I have and I will always have is growing up as a young man in America. To be more specific, a young man of color. I am someone who has the experience of being a black man and a Native American man. Growing up with that identity, given that these are two ethnic groups in our country that had the worst when it came to the oppression set in our country. Growing up with that identity has given me many unique experiences, but also hardships in my short 18 years of life. I was able to find some confidence however and I was able to become a young leader. However, what I have found is that women, specifically women of color, find it hard to gain confidence and take up arms. From my own perspective, I have seen this specifically with young Native and black women, and there are many reasons why this is the case, yet there is much we can do to help these women find confidence.
A lot of what I have seen growing up in a community that is mostly black, and hispanic, and then what I see every time I visit my tribal grounds, is that many of the people are truly struggling, and many young women particularly in these communities do not have the confidence to accomplish their dreams or take a stand for what they believe in. The constant struggle among minority groups for decent social and financial standing is never ending. We have to remember time and time again that the men who wrote our nation’s Constitution were very clear cut on who they believed should have a voice in our country. To be blunt, they only intended white men to have these rights and a voice in America. History thankfully took a turn and now we are all capable of using our voice, but for certain groups it is harder to do so. At the end of the day, black and Native women have had the worst end of the stick in our nation, and we as a nation tend to ignore how young our country is, and ultimately how much trauma to generations of young women still exists.
Many opponents to issues such as helping one particular group who has been marginalized believe that everyone has the personal choice to be strong or make their lives great, and they’re right, however where they're wrong is when they do not acknowledge why some groups struggle over others. One reason women of color tend to struggle with confidence is due to the fact of what mainstream media over the years has portrayed as true beauty or pretty women. Women of color don’t see models often that are who they are, the entertainment industry has thankfully taken a turn yet it is still dominated by white people. It is hard to find people our age interested in politics, activism, and whatnot, but narrow that down to white women, and then women of color and it is very slim. Why is that? The reason being is because women for years were held back, and even after the 19th Amendment, women of color were not able to participate and have their voices heard until decades after. Because of that constant oppression, they felt they could never have a voice or have the confidence to express their opinion in our country. In the political world however, it is still dominated mostly by white men but we see times changing. Our Vice President is a woman of color, there are 24 women in the U.S. Senate, and by the day we see more young women gaining the confidence to take action.
The continuous problem is the fact that these girls do not have people reaching out to them to understand that they can do what any other girl can do. I see this particularly in the Indigenous community, in which most young Native girls live in rural areas. To add on, most Native communities are struggling to survive. In the black community, generational trauma has caused many families and young girls to not see themselves being able to do any better due to the black community constantly being torn down in history. If we want these young women to take confidence in themselves, outreach is the best method. People who have the resources to make changes, should make an outreach to disadvantaged women who aren’t aware of the influence they hold. When we make outreach we have to touch people’s hearts because that is the only way we can effectively help young women find confidence and be the change they dream of.
How did President Bill Clinton become inspired by President JFK? He saw himself in JFK. It goes the same way. I don’t think if it weren’t for President Obama and leaders like Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, I could gain the confidence to fight for what I believe is right. The more women who take initiative, the more who will follow. With black and Native women, there has been so much generational trauma of genocide, slavery, sexual assault, and much more that has been passed down to each generation which causes them to feel worthless or invaluable but we have to keep making sure that takes a turn. For white women, Native women, Asian women, Black Women, and Hispanic/Latin women. We have to remember that our country is still very young and imperfect. When Thomas Jefferson died, Harriet Tubman was four years old. When Harriet Tubman died, Ronald Reagan was two years old, and when Ronald Reagan died, I was one year old. That shows how young our history truly is, and how we must not stop, wait, or be silent in our fight to make this country better so that all women and marginalized groups can be safe and have the confidence to be powerful.