3 Things that I learned from Anita Hill

This week was the Moxie week of celebrities. After meeting Eve earlier in the week, we ended our Friday night with a viewing of the documentary Anita, and our very own Moxie pic with the woman herself. I must admit, I didn’t know too much about the name “Anita Hill” before the Moxie project; in fact, when Ada said we were going to meet Anita Hill, I yelled out the “OMG the singer??!!” (mistaking her for Anita Baker, which is weird because I am an avid fan of Anita Baker, I guess I got carried away because they have the same first name…stupid mistake, I know)

The truth is, I knew Anita Hill more by her image, then I did by her name. I googled her once I got back to  my room and that notorious blue dress popped up on my computer, and instantly, I remembered her. I studied her in my AP Government class in high school and read her story in the introduction of Jaquelyn Dowd Hall’s Revolt Against Chivalry. LIGHTBULB TURNS ON! She’s that woman who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment a long long time ago. As I watched her documentary however, in my mind she transformed from that woman who accused Clarence Thomas,  to that woman who stood up and challenged workplace harassment. I’ve learned a whole lot from Anita Hill this week, and I’d love to share it with you.

anita and moxie

 

1. You make Plans and God laughs at them

Whether or not you’re religious, I think we all know what this phrase means. Just because we make our plans doesn’t mean they’ll come to be. I’m sure at 20 years old Anita Hill did not envision herself or aspire to be sitting in front of a group of U.S. senators, accusing a Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment. I’m sure Anita Hill never imagined that she would one day be a major player in the struggle to end workplace harassment. I’m a 20 year college student, and I have all these dreams and career plans, it’s a bit scary to think that my life probably will not go the way I am planning. What does this mean…hmmm I don’t know! I guess I shouldn’t take myself too seriously, or, better yet, I should keep an open mind in all that I do? Ugh that’s a question…it’s obvious that I’m still trying to figure this out.

2. Stay True to Who you Are

Anita Hill is very close to her family and cleverly used them as her support system during the trials. I love seeing the clips of Anita with her mother in the midst of the trials, you can really see how close the two of them were. Without her family, Anita Hill wouldn’t have been able to rise above the negativity of the trials and live a productive life. She is a stronger woman today because she relied on her loved ones in hard times; she didn’t try to do it all on her own. Oftentimes, when I think of strong women, I envision women who can do it all, women who are independent and handle their issues on their own. Anita Hill’s story is helping me realize that relying on others for emotional support does not make a person weak. In fact, having a family that loves you, and submitting to that love only makes a person stronger. This is important for me to realize because I have a tendency to shut my family out when I need the most support. Prime example- finals week.

3. Identities Are More Complex Than Black/White and Man/Woman

Yea, so apparently during the trials Anita Hill was just a woman and Clarence Thomas was just an African-American. What the trials failed to do was acknowledge the complexities in the identity of both parties involved. Anita Hill was a woman without a race in 1991. The fact that she was a woman trumped all other aspects of her identity, thus the “high-tech lynching” Clarence Thomas referred to couldn’t apply to her. Had the Senators taken both Anita Hill’s race and gender into account, America would have seen a different trial. How this relates to me? Well I’ve been having difficulties seeing where I fit into the feminist movement, Anita’s story shows that identities are complex and never black and white-  discovering my identity as a feminist will not be simple either.

1 thought on “3 Things that I learned from Anita Hill

  1. Hi Ngozi

    I’m really intrigued by all three of our points, but the “identities” one show up so often in my work that it is of constant interest (and sometimes bafflement) to me. Particularly when we add on digital identities on top of those we are more accustomed to with physical identities (black/white, man/woman, etc). In your work this summer w/ Moxie, how are you seeing YOUR identity play out?

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