Last week, President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 athletes, artists, philanthropists, and scientists (full list of honorees below). Each honoree serves as an example of how Americans can use their voices and gifts to create meaningful change in our culture and society. Throughout the ceremony, I was reminded of how many people have seen our society’s attitudes change and grow over their lifetime. President Obama’s touching tribute to Ellen DeGeneres recognized the courage she had to come out on a national stage in a time when the LGBTQ community was largely living in the shadows. The President also spoke about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s commitment to social justice, especially his dedication to achieving racial equality. He also recognized Margaret Hamilton, an engineer and scientist, who challenged the male dominated technology field of her time and paved the way for women to enter STEM fields. These inspirational individuals remind me of how important it is to celebrate the risk-takers and trailblazers who defy odds and represent the depths of what it means to be a real leader in America. And as we look to the new year, it’s critical that we continue to nurture and foster this type of courageous leadership, amongst our nation’s citizenry and especially our nation’s youth.
Each of you may not yet be a presidential medal of freedom honoree, but let this inspire you to use your power and your privilege for the betterment of our society. There are a myriad of ways you can use your voice, your platform, and your pocketbook to do this:
1) Entertain a dinner table conversation about what it means to be a real leader and share the outcome with us.
2) Inspire young people in your life to commit to being courageous advocates and leaders in their communities.
3) Host a screening of Miss Representation and/or The Mask You Live In coupled with a post-screening discussion on the dangers of toxic masculinity.
4) Make a donation today to support our social justice work at The Representation Project.
Although it’s been a challenging year, it’s more important than ever that we draw inspiration from our country’s real heroes and work towards a more just and equitable society for all.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom & The Representation Project Team
Representation Around the Web
“Watching ostensibly educated adults grapple with whether our soon-to-be president should take the political risk of denouncing a strain of outright neo-Nazism that poses the question of whether Jews are actually human beings is a bizarre and wholly insane experience.” – Ashley Feinberg, via Deadspin
- CBS News: White House Honors Two of Tech’s Female Pioneers
- Fortune: Patagonia is Donating All Its Black Friday Sales to Charity
- New York Magazine: Amal Clooney Urges Women to Perform ‘Everyday Acts of Feminism’
- Teen Vogue: Native American Girls Describe the REAL History Behind Thanksgiving
- Upworthy: Kanye just Shined an Ultralight Beam on the Issues of Mental Health in Black Communities.
- The Washington Post: Sexist Men Have Psychological Problems
President Obama honoring Ellen DeGeneres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Image via Miss Representation‘s Instagram