Georgetown’s values inspire activist efforts, according to three alumni who participated in the “Hoya Visionaries” panel at the OWN IT Summit on Saturday.
The panel featured disability rights advocate Anastasia Somoza (COL ’07), who gave a speech in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016; Madame Gandhi (COL ’11), a musician and activist who promotes feminist ideals and female empowerment and Yamiche Alcindor (COL ’09), a reporter for the New York Times focusing on political and social justice issues.
Alcindor said Georgetown encouraged her to pursue her passions rather than wealth.
“If you love what you’re doing, it shows. The message I got from a professor here was the money will come,” Alcindor said.
Somoza said doing things differently to others is important to find one’s passions.
“My advice is: do the random thing that you don’t expect to connect or to help you with what you actually want to do,” Somoza said. “I was so resistant to that. I was so resistant to taking the path less traveled, but it will help show you where you’re supposed to be.”
According to Gandhi, bravery, too, plays a role in success.
“We always teach perfection, but we don’t teach bravery,” Gandhi said. “You have to be ready to fail forward a little bit, to be okay with the fact that maybe something doesn’t work out quite how you want it to. But in doing it enough, and I should say it’s your fuel. If you’re doing something that you love, it’s going to work.”
The panelists also addressed their roles in the field of activism and how students should become involved in activist efforts.
As a journalist, Alcindor said she focuses on the stories she is telling rather than consciously looking to spread feminism.
“I go into spaces thinking that I deserve to be here, that I am here to tell a story, and that these stories matter,” Alcindor said.
Gandhi said she aims to promote peaceful, educated discourse on women’s issues through her work in the music industry.
“It is really important for us to go to spaces where feminism isn’t welcome or people aren’t thinking about it that much or they’re contributing to the problem and engage in conversation,” Gandhi said. “It’s for us to accept it and deal with it, and then to equip ourselves to engage in conversations peacefully.”
According to Somoza, the issues addressed through her activism and advocacy are innately intersectional.
“I’m a woman, I have a disability, I’m the daughter of immigrants. I care about all of these issues that are being spoken about in politics and in everyday life. I think the way they all intersect,” Somoza said. “I don’t do one thing or the other because I’m a woman or because I’m disabled or because I’m the daughter of immigrants. I don’t think about these things in silos. They all intersect and they all always will.”
Alcindor said despite progress being made in feminist issues, the work is far from over, especially in light of President Donald Trump’s election in November. Trump sparked ire in October when a 2005 recording of him making derogatory remarks about women, including that he could “grab them by the pussy,” was leaked.
“People are starting to recognize after this election that we have a lot more work to do,” Alcindor said.
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