What Made this Immigrant a Real Life Wonder Woman
There are many real Wonder Women out in the world. Here is one that most of us have not heard of: Lupe Gonzalo. She dreamed, she hoped, she was told she couldn’t. She was mistreated, disrespected, abused. She stood up, stronger. She fights every day to win small and big battles. She has changed the world to be a better place to exist: for herself and many others.
And she keeps fighting…
Last week we attended #TogetherLive2017. An amazing event where incredible women shared their stories of growth, love, fear and lots of bravery
We experienced Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach telling their story. How they met, the connection the felt and what they had to do to create the life they wanted and protect the love they share. Also, Luvvie Ajayi, who tells a story of life surprises after following her passion of writing in the most entertaining and funny way.
At one point during the night, Glennon stood up and introduced us to a story that for me, was both inspirational and heart-breaking. Definitely my favorite of the night.
She started by talking about how she lives in a “rich, white neighborhood”, an area where “you are not really supposed to talk to people from other neighborhoods”(this sounded like a truth hidden behind a joke). One day though, her and Abby decided to go meet a woman living in a close by area. A farm worker.
After showing a video that introduced us to her story, Abby invited Lupe Gonzalo, to come sit at the stage. The room felt so quiet. Time stopped for a second. And we all listened as she started to speak.
A Woman, a hard-worker.
Lupe worked in the fields of Florida for over a decade. She spoke for herself and many other women, immigrants, that work in the fields as vegetable and fruit pickers, putting their hearts and souls every day to get the most basic needs for their children.
Lupe and I may look very different. We may have backgrounds from opposite sides of the scope and still, that didn’t matter. When she spoke I felt incredibly connected to her, to every word she was sharing, to every feeling she was having. Her love as a mother, her dedication to improve her life and the lives of her kids, her pain, her struggle, her bravery, her strength.
A Woman, beaten down.
Lupe spoke of a painful truth happening in the fields. A truth that involved her and other 80% of women workers. A truth that involves being sexually assaulted and abused, being treated in non-human ways, without integrity, without respect, without options. A truth of daily defeats.
My heart was crushed to hear her say that after being assaulted and abused, she would get home and find it hard to hug her kids, to be present for them. To feel anything but anger.
I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. After years of abuse, the pain of feeling ashamed of yourself, mortified for what you have become.
Where do you get an inch of strength to get your spirit to stand up for dignity?
How do you get the energy to demand respect?
A Woman that said: NO MORE!
But that didn’t happen to Lupe. She stood up. She said “NO MAS”. She fought for herself and many other women workers.
She decided that from now on — when she said “NO” to the abuse — it meant “NO”.
She decided that instead, -it was time for her to say “YES”- Yes to respect, Yes to humanity, Yes to love. It sounded like a LOUD YES to herself!
Lead with the Lupe in You.
I might not be doing full justice to her story, but this is what I was left feeling: This woman has gone through horrific moments of abuse, left feeling worthless, without options, stepped on, disregarded.
And here is what I’m reflecting on:
We are stronger than what we think we are. We are braver than what we can even imagine we can be. We are capable of becoming our own hero.
Lupe is an example of someone that really had all the justifications to stay as the victim. Waiting for someone to come rescue her. She would have had all the compassion, all the understanding and support from many of us…right there, staying at the “abused” state of being.
“We decided to demand the right as women to work free of sexual harassment and violence, and the right to protect our dignity.” Lupe Gonzalo.
And I am here…Thinking of her. Inspired by her. Her strength, her determination to make things right, turning the world into a better place to live. Literally standing up in protest, getting other women together, forming a coalition of support, of strength, of love. A group that became a tribe of women fighting for their rights to work with dignity and respect.
These women didn’t wait for anyone to come to their rescue. They did that all on their own.
The Wonder Woman Story.
Lupe’s story made me think of a few words I had written down in my journal after seeing the movie Wonder Woman. I came home feeling that it could be the story of many women. It could be your story, my story. And here it is:
- When she was a child, she had dreams and big aspirations filled with pure innocence.
- She tried hard, trained herself to be better, suffered pain and losses. But she became more confident.
- She went out to the world with great expectations and dreams: She was going to make her world better.
- She was told she couldn’t. She tried anyways.
- One day, she realized the world wasn’t what she thought it was. That she couldn’t save it anymore. She lost hope, she forgot who she was.
- Something really sad happened to her. And then she was angry and decided to do something about it so Strength and Power poured out of her. She made the decision to lead with love.
- And now, this Wonder Woman saves her world one day at a time.
Am I really talking about the movie here? In a way, yes. But this is also Lupe’s story and the story of many women. Think of your story. Do you see yourself in it?
Some are starting in their journey, others are half-way through, many are already saving their worlds with love and self-power every day.
The Most Precious Prize for Lupe.
I felt my chest pressing deep, a nut in my throat and my eyes filled with tears when Lupe said: “Ahora puedo ir a mi casa todos los días sintiéndome bien al abrazar a mis hijos”. “I can go home now every day feeling good when hugging my children”.
To me, that’s The Life. The life I want to live. A life where I’m feeling proud for standing up for myself, for honoring my values, my integrity and my dignity.
You deserve that too. So, stand up. Right now.
Lupe is now a senior staff member and leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and organization standing up for human rights of workers. The CIW has been recognized by Obama and 2015 Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts Combatting Modern-Day Slavery and the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award.
Learn More about Lupe here.