Today we went to Val-kill and learned about Eleanor Roosevelt and how she affected humans rights. One particular right that stood out to me. Education. I found myself reflecting back on my experiences with education and the women of India.
I have found that throughout my lifetime I have always been hesitant to use the phrase women of color to describe myself. I am after all half white and most certainly “white passing”. Who am I to masquerade as a martyr of the P.O.C community? But I think I am doing something I tend to do a lot. I am making it about myself. Having an opportunity at education, to read and write (and write and write and write…) is something many women of color can not dream of. It makes me very sad to think of the Indian women who do not have the opportunity to learn as my mother, and her mother, and her mother before that have given me.
My great grandmother was married at fifteen and never finished her high school education like so many other young girls. She had my grandmother when she was seventeen. She had always wanted an education but her family was a big one so it wasn't really possible. Twelve years after my grandmother was born my great grandmother started studying again to pass her high school exam and she did it. She graduated high school one year before her daughter did. She went to college for two years to get her intermediate degree. She got that also. Then she went for her undergraduate degree but she didn't finish it.
After that she wanted to teach so she got a little land to build a one room school and she asked for some contributions so she could teach the children of the farmers in the area. At first she only had twenty students but then she went to the board of education and asked them for a grant. She had two more classrooms built. After that she had at least 100 students! She worked all her life to build that school and it's still there to this very day with lots of classrooms and students. She did a lot of social work giving money to poorer people and looking after them. She was the driving force behind a long line of great women.
I want to be able to help people like that too. For most Indian women their education ends after marriage but it doesn't have to be that way. They continue to learn and can enrich their communities. Although the definition of women of color seems very literal to me it is something quite complicated. I think that it means giving back to the community I came from. I have been given a gift from Malala to Maya Angelou to my great grandmother and I am intent on using it. Women and girls of color everywhere deserve the chance to learn and grow and learn some more. And let me tell you something about them, about us. We are so smart. We are so capable. And I truly believe that if every single little girl of color was given the opportunity, the gift of education that I was, the world would change in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.