Friday, September 20, 2013

Leslie Knope

           Everywhere I go, it seems that someone is telling me to watch "Parks and Recreation". Although the show seemed decent to me, I never was fully convinced that it was worth my time. Since moving to DC and starting my internship at the National Organization for Women, a different take on this show has finally convinced me otherwise. My first day, my coworkers kept quoting the main character, Leslie Knope, as their "feminist hero". Although I had heard that this character was quite funny, I had never thought that a character on such a popular show would be a feminist. I figured I had to start watching the show to see it with my own eyes. Low and behold, Leslie Knope is in fact a die hard feminist- down to the photo of Madeleine Albright that sits on her desk. She is goofy, she is smart, and she is passionate about women's rights. She is wonderful.
         Throughout my three weeks working at NOW, I have continually been surprised in this manner. I have learned so much from the people I am working with and through the work NOW does as an organization. It has been an unbelievably rewarding experience to attend events that are truly important to me and to complete tasks that I feel will actually make a difference for women across the world (sounds cheesy- but hey, everyone needs a little cheesy in their life!) With each day, I feel more and more like Leslie Knope, and more and more a part of NOW because of her.
          Each week at NOW so far, I have been assigned to "staff" the President of NOW, Terry O'Neil, at a rally for a variety of causes that NOW supports. The first week, I attended a rally for an organization called OUR Walmart that fights against the oppressive nature of Walmart's treatment towards workers, especially those that are women. I heard past Walmart employees speak about the terrible ways in which they were fired and the struggles they have faced. I saw 8 women get arrested through their act of civil disobedience to show Walmart and the world that something has to change. It was inspiring. The next week, I attended a rally for "We Belong Together" to fight for immigration reform. Here, I heard women speak about their families being deported and their families torn apart. I saw 100 women crowd the streets in front of the Capitol, join hands, and sit in a circle in the middle of the street while chanting "Si Se Puede!" and "Yes We Can!" before they were each arrested. This act of civil disobedience was truly moving and sought to show Congress that they will not stop fighting for immigration reform in order to put their families back together. This week, we attended a more somber event- a rally for "Mayors Against Illegal Guns", an organization that fights for gun violence reform. I heard victims of gun violence from Tucsan, Aurora, and Newtown speak of their experiences and the tragedy of losing a sister or friend. The emotion brought power to the cause, and each speaker demanded that Congress address gun violence through background checks in order to reduce the death rates in our nation. At each event, I couldn't help but think about the passion that Leslie Knope puts into her rallies for parks in her small town, and how lucky I was to be able to attend and help at such important events.