“I have the gavel and I am not afraid to use it!”
I watched the 50th NAACP Image Awards the other night and, while I was live tweeting throughout the event with AT&T’s #DreaminBlack conversation, I had to step away from the computer for about 10 minutes as I absorbed every word of Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ truly epic speech as she accepted the Chairman’s Award during the 50th NAACP Image Awards! The words she repeated that resonated with each and every listener were “I have the gavel and I am not afraid to use it” and ultimately, “WE have the gavel and WE are not afraid to use it!”
Yes, Maxine Waters is U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district and literally “holds the gavel,” but what she communicated to us all is that we all hold a gavel in our lives- in our families, in our careers, in our communities and in our stories. We have more power than we realize and control over what we will and will not stand for, how we’ll accept that people see and treat us, and the contributions we will make in this world.
In terms of how we use our “gavel” with out power to vote, “Auntie Maxine” further addressed the power of millennials during her back stage interview, where she stated the following:
Well, first of all, I am excited about the possibilities. I think we’re going to expand African American participation in voting because of millennials. The millennials have shown great interest. I think millennials understand their potential power and they’re ready to use it, and my job, as Auntie Maxine, is to open up the opportunities to make sure that we are bringing them in to where decisions are being made so that they could exercise influence, but one of the things I’ve discovered about the young people is, they want us to speak truth to power. They want authenticity, and to the degree that we’re able to be open, and to be honest, and to be transparent, we will get them more involved, and more interested, and more believing in the political process, and so, I’m looking forward to all of the candidates, making the rounds in the cities across this country, in the town, but I want our voters to ask the real questions.
AT&T’s Dream in Black initiative is all about celebrating those who are paving the way in the Black community as they shape the now, the new, and the next. It’s helping young black men and women recognize their power and uplift one another as we exercise our powers to create a space for ourselves and those who follow us. It hits hard for me, as I embark on a journey with my conference ShiftCon and make it my mission to empower women and underrepresented communities to longer ask for a seat at the table we aren’t invited to, but to create our own, equally powerful table of influence. It hits hard for me as a mother of daughters who are finding their place in a world that tries to marginalize them and their voices. And it hits hard for me as a child of immigrants whose courageous stories are being shamed rather of celebrated. In so many ways, this hits hard for me.
I applaud Maxine Waters and all of the pioneers who are paving the way for a better future. Whether your “gavel” is your voice, your talent, your influence, or whatever, this serves as a reminder that YES , we all have the gavel and we should not be afraid to use it!