Right now, Thea, my 14-year-old, incredible sister is probably on her 2nd cup of coffee while listening to speakers from across the nation talk about awareness and advocacy when it comes to reproductive justice among women of color. Thea’s in DC for the week, being a member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council, lobbying for sex education, and telling her story about why we need comprehensive, medically accurate sex education in schools. She’s the youngest person there by about 10 years, and I’ve never been prouder.
People who knew us growing up used to joke that Thea and I were “raised like adults” in the sense that we’re both socially conscious and mature for our ages. This always kind of makes me laugh because in my mind it’s so clear; why would you not want to raise your children to have opinions and take action and make a difference?
Thea embodies the concept. She applied to sit on the Council a few months ago, was chosen, and immediately began learning about everything. She went through an online program that certified her to teach sex education, she runs active, female-empowering social media sites, and she decided to go on this trip to DC by herself to work with this group. Thea is a complete rockstar and she can’t even drive yet.
I like to give credit where credit is due, so I do want to mention that this kind of drive and determination completely comes from our parents who never talked down to us, always respected us, and have supported us since the beginning. We both grew up going to protests and rallies and committee meetings and cultural festivals and museums and libraries. (So much so that when asked if I wanted to go to Universal Studios when I was 15, I asked if we could go to the Museum of Tolerance instead). We grew up around justice seekers and politicians and activists and feminists. We were raised by people who were involved in everything from neighborhood groups to local committees to national organizations. We grew up around people who never doubted what we were capable of doing and who were often times right there beside us, fighting the same battles. I’m not a mom yet, so I have no idea what raising a child is like, but it seems pretty incredible to be able to set aside your own fears and encourage your children to form their own opinions and stand up and speak out. We are fortunate to have been raised by our parents.
I feel lucky to be part of a family that cares so deeply about so many things and has the opportunity, courage, and drive to go out into the world and fight for them. And even though my friends say I’m 19 going on 39, I’m exceptionally happy to have had a uniquely grown-up childhood with a sister who’s now my role model.