i am a WOMAN

Zaneta J Smith
Mar 4 · 3 min read

If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? I would never change the fact that I am female. I love being a woman. Top two things I love? My intuition and the ability to carry on civilization whether I choose to or not.

As I begin to celebrate women’s history month, I marvel at the progress and strides the world has made in valuing women. Just 50 years ago, about 69% of Black people were registered to vote nationally and the law had just passed banning discriminatory practices at the ballot. Just 40 years ago, my boss may have required me to wear a dress to work. (Note: I usually wear pants every day). Just 30 years ago, I might still have been expected by my spouse or partner to stay at home and raise children if I were to get pregnant. More importantly, it would have been harder to re-enter the workforce as a working mom.

Now, I see myself more and more in society and I am loving it. I see more black women in media

Source: Tony Lowe Images. (From Left to Right: Jenifer Lewis, Actress/Author; Kelly Rowland, Singer; Ava Duvernay, Director)

I see more Black women in politics. I am also witnessing a Black woman run for President.

Source: Wikipedia, Twitter, Time (From Left to Right: Karen Bass, Congresswoman; Autumn Burke, Assemblymember; Kamala Harris, US Senator)

I see more Black women in top positions in corporate America

Source: Philadelphia Tribune, Wikimedia Commons, TED (From Left to Right: Cynthia Mitchell, Dallas Mavericks; Oprah Winfrey, Oprah Winfrey Network; Mellody Hobson, TED)

I see more black women serving on boards

Source: Black Enterprise, Twitter, ABC (From Left to Right: Rosalind Brewer, Amazon; Debra Lee, Twitter; Serena Williams, Survey Monkey)

For the majority of my life, I have been empowered as a woman. I was in Girl Scouts from age 10–18 where I was empowered to be and do anything I set my mind to. I learned camping techniques, arranged travel itineraries, gained entrepreneurial skills, learned project management tips, and major people skills.

From 18–22, I attended Spelman College, a historically black college for women where I was empowered with leadership tools and motivated to change the world. At this point, I feel invincible. I know and understand that women who came before me held their tongues, spoke out, fought for a better life, and survived challenging circumstances so that I can hold the very positions I do today — Public Policy Advocate, Professor, Community Organizer, Board Member, and Social Entrepreneur. More importantly, they gave me the freedom to choose…who I want to be in the world. I take this freedom very seriously. I am living for the women who wished for the life that I have and who never got to experience the freedoms in which I indulge. I revel in the fact that my crown has been paid for and I wear it proudly.

(From Left to Right: On campus, in Australia for Spring Break, JPMorgan/Chase Good Venture Competition — Junior Year)

This month, you will find me wearing pants because I can, educating myself on upcoming local and national elections because I can vote, and empowering my sisters who are working moms because that balancing act is not to be dismissed and support is everything.

Happy Women’s History Month!

Zaneta J Smith

Written by

Coordinates operations of an African American civic engagement & public opinion research organization, the California Policy & Research Initiative. calpri.org