Jamilah Lemieux is a phenomenal woman. She is a Senior Editor at EBONY magazine, a champion for black women and girls, and an advocate for racial equality, social justice, and LGBT rights. Who better to help the University of Connecticut begin their Women's History Month Celebration? She kicked things off Tuesday evening with a speech entitled “Get In Formation: Finding the Feminism That Fits You (And the Rest of The World, Too!)."
Lemieux, as a woman who's battled the struggle of staying strong in difficult times knows that there is no time like the present to take a stand on social concerns about race, gender, and sexuality on and off-campus. Because of her own wish that she'd spent more time in college speaking up as a feminist and an activist, she encourages students to pursue endeavors in feminist activism, no matter how risky they may seem.
As a black woman, Lemieux has experienced the tension between different aspects of her identity. In activism, for example, it was hard for her to decide whether to address street harassment - which is important to her as a woman- and racially motivated police brutality - which is important to her as a black citizen of this country. As she recognizes, there is no strict dichotomy between these things, and such conflict need not arise between the different aspects of a woman; on this she said, “There's never been a conflict in loving any part of your own identity or someone else’s and being feminist. The challenge that we have is finding how to fit each part of our identity into that without erasing someone else's experience.”
Lemieux emphasized that students should leverage the advantages they do have, regardless of the aspects wherein they experience oppression, so that spaces can be created for their voices to be heard. Though she was the person on stage, she is adamantly as much a part of the battle as the students she addressed.
“You can be a white female with a middle class background; you can be a Korean student who never met a black person before college; you can be figuring out your gender identity. There’s space for us all here and there’s space for us all to make space for other people, for you to get in formation," Lemieux said in closing.