As a woman of color, I often find myself as the odd man out. I am talked over, ignored, and patronized. It gets tiresome and makes me want to just give up and fade into the background until I think about Shirley Chisholm. Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to make a bid for president and she was the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, representing New York’s 12th District, for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. She not only was able to gain great power in a time of great struggle for both women’s rights and a large racial divide in this country, but she used her power to uplift people in need. During her time in office, she founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969, championed minority education, and employment opportunities. When I get talked over, ignored, and patronized I remember what Shirley Chisholm said: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”. I create a space for myself when there is not one. As a woman in STEM, I have had a good deal of practice. I make my point and stick to my guns refusing to let my male counterparts tell me that I should sit on the sidelines or my teachers undermine my intelligence in my accelerated or AP classes. I will not give up or give in because Chisholm never did. She worked hard to make the best possible education available for me and I will utilize it.
Shirley Chisholm refused to pick whether she would be a candidate for women or Black people. She reminds me that I do not have to choose to fight for what I believe in only when others think it’s acceptable. I will make my voice heard as she did campaigning against all injustice not just one issue because as Chisholm said, “in the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism”. I fight for myself and others not only because it is the right thing to do, but because if we can have a black congresswoman in the late nineteen sixties then 2021 is far too late for ignorance and intolerance of any kind. Each time I am told that I take things too seriously or I need to get over microaggressions, I remind myself that I can make a change if I chose to. Though it is tiresome, I have a role model to look up to. Shirley Chisholm is the reason I keep fighting for what is right even when it’s hard.