This year, the 75th annual Golden Globes were held with stars being honored for their achievements in the world of cinematography. One person in particular, with a lifetime achievement award, was THE Oprah Winfrey, a household name for any national or international household. Her work ranges from talk show host, author, actress to philanthropist, inspiring women (and men as you’ll find out) to step outside of their comfort zone and pursue their dreams, wherever those may lead. So why was I found bawling my eyes out on my living room floor after her incredible speech for women empowerment?
When I was 5 years old, my mother got her masters in business. As I was graduating from kindergarten at the time, I told everyone I was graduating with a masters in business, too. I was taught that, regardless of gender, those who have the talent and the perseverance to succeed will, and my mother was no different. Time passed and I saw my mother as a figure of strength and bravery in a society that didn’t give her the same opportunities.
And I lived that.
I saw the long nights and weekends of working, outdoing and out-performing her male colleagues. However, in those late nights and weekends, the glue that connected my mother and I was in the form of a television show: "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Every day we would sit there watching as new people with new stories came to share how they fought and what their experiences had taught them. And through all of that, after hearing stories of survivors of hurricanes and natural disasters or rape survivors, I felt as though my mother had something to say. I knew that women had something to say, waiting for their microphone and audience.
Fast forward to high school where the first Women Empowerment club in our area was created, the slogan being the popular “Empowered women empower women.”
At that moment, I fell into the mold that society has carved out for men, that women empowerment is an issue that women must fight for.
Being a man supporting women must inherently mean some sort of masculine deficiency culturally rejected by peers. And yet, I walked into the first meeting remembering my mother and her fight for everything she had. I will say, my appearance to the first club made for women was a little surprising to everyone, including myself, but I was embraced as most men that can cross that invisible line in the sand are. From then on, my perspective on women grew stronger, as I was coexisting with people that experience prejudice every day, solely because of their gender.
Fast forward one more time and I’m sitting back down on my living room rug, anxiously awaiting what statement Oprah will make. As she gets up on stage to accept her award, I realize the full circle I have made, sitting with my mother once again watching Oprah in awe. And I was awestruck.
In her speech, Oprah said “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.” And I realized that this was their moment.
This was their microphone and audience, and who better to speak than THE Oprah Winfrey. Everything I had seen in my life with my mother, my peers, my friends, my sister, it became clearer, a new lens cast upon it. I understood with more clarity the struggle of women, and while I could never individually understand, I felt the pain of rejection and humiliation, feelings my mother endured while raising two children.
And I cried.
Tears of joy and sadness really, as I saw the past for what it was, but I could see what was to come for people like my sister who hadn’t entered the workforce.
And as I turned to my mother, the same tears streamed down her face, I knew what this meant for her. Finally, someone to vocalize what she had felt, this was HER story, as it was for millions of women who endured the same. She had finally found peace in knowing that she was not alone.
And now FINALLY, the microphone has been dropped and the audience is standing on their feet (or on the carpet bawling their eyes out).
And change is coming.