I don’t mean to offend or bore you, but this is the place I’m in circa now.
The world is an increasingly scary place. I think you all know that just from turning on your televisions or laptops—or, hell, for some of you, from just looking out the window. There are mass protests in the name of democracy against the regimes of dictators; there is violence against innocent children who just want an education and more out of life than living in a suffocating patriarchy; there are people in this world who still believe in treating others as less-than-humans because of the color of their skin, their sexuality, their place on the socioeconomic ladder, their personhood.
My family came to this country and worked for everything they got. My grandparents lived on a modest income and raised two kids. Those two kids are now parents and have careers and homes and cars and lives of their own. These things they were able to accomplish without university degrees; however, everything came at the price of blood, sweat, and tears. I am lucky to belong to a family of intelligent individuals who, although not always together, have a lasting sense of who they are, where they came from, and what they fought for to get to where they are. That I am a first generation university graduate and a professional student in law school is not to be taken lightly. For me, as well as for them, my continuing education and aspirations is a huge deal. For me, it is an escape. For us, it is proof that anyone who said we couldn’t do it—because we are Latin@s, because we are part of the grey middle-class, because we are first and second generation immigrants—waswrong.
My education continues to thrive on the help and generosity of others. The people who have surrounded me for the last twenty years of my education have pushed me to become something bigger than myself. I would be nothing without my family and friends’ constant phone calls through the LSAT, my mom’s 2a.m. quesadillas during AP exams in high school, my abuelita’s involvement in my elementary school classes when my mom couldn’t be there because she was working to put food on the table. I would not be the person I am today without the love and support of everyone I know.
I look up to those women in the law and other professions who are strong, driven, and motivated to do good. Do well, yes. But to do good means so much more. Sonia Sotomayor. Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama. All three lawyers, all three educated, all incredible women. Every initiative made by these women makes my country better, stronger, a place where I would want to live. It may have taken me forever to realize it, but everything I do is to better myself and to try to better the world around me. “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”.
As the only daughter of a single mother, the discussions about what women’s rights should and shouldn’t be are absolutely appalling. When did it become anyone’s business to invade my body with a political agenda? When did it become anyone’s business to tell me how much of a human I am allowed to be?
I ask myself what my world would be like if I did not have access to basic health standards: birth control, screenings for cancers which affect women’s bodies with the most prevalence (and to which I am very susceptible because of my family’s health history), check-ups to make sure my anatomy is in working order.
I often wonder what would become of me in the event I ever got pregnant: the usual course of prenatal vitamins, regular visits to the doctor, ultrasounds, constant screenings to make sure my child’s health and my own body were in shape and ready to bring another human into the world.
These days, I wonder what would happen if I were to get pregnant as a student in debt, a single woman barely able to keep afloat without a steady job, armed only with my undergraduate degree and a powerful sense of myself. I wonder what would happen if I had to go through that alone, like so many of the mothers I know. Like my own mother, who worked and worked and works to this day to provide for us. I ask of nothing from her, and she gives me the world.
What would you do if, one day, you woke up and suddenly, in the eyes of the law, you were less of a human?
Come Tuesday, my rights as a woman are up in the air. My rights, your rights, your mother’s, sister’s, girlfriend’s, wife’s, daughter’s, niece’s, grandma’s, friend’s, lover’s, women’s rights. Our rights are up in the air. So this is my white flag.
I implore you,
I beg of you,
I plead from the bottom of my heart,
please, do not use your right to vote to suppress my rights— As a student. As your daughter. As your family. As your friend. As a woman. As a human. Please take a moment to consider more than fiscal reform and foreign policy and how you can avoid paying more taxes because godforbid the streets are well-paved and people have universal healthcare and children have a better education and a better chance at being successful in life. Vote for my rights as a woman.