Recently, Symone Sanders, a political strategist, activist, author, and former Girls Inc. of Omaha girl, sat down with a trio of young leaders from her Girls Inc. alma mater. Desyree, Lataija, and Jayleesha spoke at length with Symone about her time at Girls Inc. and her experiences as a Black woman in politics.
“I was always good, but Girls Inc. helped make me great.”
The conversation began with Symone, Desyree, Latija, and Jayleesha reminiscing about their most memorable moments at Girls Inc. Symone, a former CNN correspondent, mentioned that she distinctly remembered the media literacy program, because it “is the program that got [her] interested in media [and] in doing television.” Symone noted that at Girls Inc. she received a tremendous amount of support and likes to say that she was always good, but Girls Inc. helped to make her great.
Being a Black Woman in Politics
When Desyree asked Symone about her experiences as a Black woman in politics, Symone noted that it can be challenging and exhausting. But she also explained how she feels it is an honor to be able to work with other amazing and hardworking women of color. Symone “never relishes in being the only one” and states that there are still not enough Black women in politics, but that number is growing.
Symone shared that at times peers and colleagues have seemed to feel threatened by her, but she chooses never to question herself. She stated that if people are intimidated by her, it has “everything to do with them and nothing to do with me. I don’t question when I am in the room, because I know I deserve to be there.”
There Is Not a Handbook For Change
When asked about how to get involved in advocacy, Symone acknowledged that it can feel intimidating to begin advocacy projects because they seem difficult and abstract. She emphasized the importance of finding a community and network first, and making information easily accessible to participants in order to encourage people to become involved. So, while there may be no handbook for change, there is always power in the people.
“No, You Shut Up”
Symone talked about the moment in 2017 when she was told to “shut up” on national television. This shocking moment was what inspired her recently published book: No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America. The book details the experiences in her life that led up to her becoming an advocate. In her conversation with the teen leaders, Symone highlighted the importance of young women speaking up, not shutting up: “All of our voices deserve to be in the conversation.”
Thank you to Desyree, Lataija, and Jayleesha for their interest and involvement in advocacy and to Symone for speaking about her experiences and acting as a role model for girls.