Last night I heard a speech that was so brilliant, so powerful, so game-changing, it reminded me of other history making speeches given by the likes of Churchill, Kennedy and King. The difference? This one was given by a woman.
When my daughter was just a few months old, I remember holding her in my arms with tears quietly running down my face - expressed not out of overwhelming happiness, but out of overwhelming fear. I had no idea how to protect or prepare this perfect, beautiful, completely innocent creature I'd brought into the world from what I knew from personal experience was a place she would often encounter sexism, silencing, judgement and shame - a place where her looks would often hold more value than her character, and her success would often rely more on her willingness to play by the rules rather than by her abilities. I knew a world where women who were bold enough to stand up, to speak up, to think for themselves and rely on themselves were labeled as bitch and ballbuster - as though having our own thoughts, opinions, standards and self respect made us hard to deal with at best, and undesirable at worst. At age 32, I'd already felt the brunt of speaking the truth many times, and since then, almost 14 years later, I've endured countless additional affirmations that a woman who speaks her mind and shares her story will often be shoved to the sidelines, if not cut off at the knees.
What a revelation and relief it was then, to witness an occasion when women dominated one of the most socially influential industry celebrations, and to hear a black woman who came from abject poverty - and who has since dedicated her life to helping others rise up - to hear that woman deliver a speech rich with hope and promise for change - the sort of speech the world is desperate to hear right now, after a year of political chaos, lack of leadership and social division.
Oprah's speech is a history lesson and a rallying cry all at once. It calls men and women together to strive for something better - to stand up to injustice, to not be afraid, to tell the truth without fear of retribution, and most importantly, to know there is a growing community of human beings that will not only take you seriously when you tell the ugliest of truths, but stand with you in solidarity. We are forming a peaceful but vocal army that is fighting for equality, for fairness, for support - for what is right. Time is up on anything else.
This is a victory for humanity. It's a victory for our children. As Oprah says in her speech, a new day is on the horizon, and I have hope in my soul for the first time that my daughter won't find herself one day looking at her own newborn child in fear of what everyday injustices that sweet baby may have to contend with in her own life. Blessed be.