This Week in Women: Miss America, Ilhan Omar, & The NWHL Strike
This week we are covering the headlines around women rallying for women, from the Capitol Hill rally in support of Rep. Ilhan Omar to pro female hockey players striking for parity and better conditions.
Also, a magical moment happened on Thursday when Cheslie Kryst was crowned as the new Miss USA. Her victory ushered in a crowning trifecta: For the first time in the history of top beauty pageants, three black women hold the titles for the top honors. Kryst, a 27-year-old lawyer from North Carolina, joins 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin and 2019 Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris.
“I’m standing here in Nevada, in the state that has the first female majority legislature in the entire country,” Kryst said during the interview portion of the competition. “Mine is the first generation to have that forward-looking mindset that has inclusivity, diversity, strength and empowered women. I’m looking forward to continued progress in my generation.”
— Miss USA & Miss Teen USA (@MissUSA) May 3, 2019
Black Women Rally Around Rep. Ilhan Omar
“Unlike the president, I don’t adhere to the belief that we should be furthering xenophobia in this country. This is my country. There is not his America. This is our America. We collectively live in this country. And I have as much of a right to it as he does and anyone else. So, that’s one,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D – Minnesota) in anwith Democracy Now!. “Second, let me just say this: For this president, who really was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who rode the backs of marginalized people to make his money, to talk to me, as someone who survived war, lived in a refugee camp, learned English in six months, worked almost every single job that you can imagine, from cleaning offices to being a cashier to working my way up to now being a member of Congress, with only two decades of being in this country, to talk to me about real life, it really tells you how demented he sounds and how much he’s really willing to go in furthering the demonization and the silencing of minority communities, who understand that we have the power as people to stand up to him, to fight for the America we know we deserve, and to practice the kind of political joy that allows for all of us to participate and fight for prosperity, not for the few, but for the many.”
The statement from the Congresswoman was given in response to President Trump’s April 12 retweet of a video that used a snippet of a speech she gave at the Council on American-Islamic Relations to imply that she had little regard for the significance of 9/11. Omar said the retweet of the video and other Twitter attacks by Trump has resulted in a spike in death threats and hostility against her.
This week over 100 black women rallied in Washington, D.C. – under the banner “Black Women In Defense of Ilhan” – speaking out in support of Omar and encouraging Rep. Nancy Pelosi and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to censure Trump over his incendiary tweets.
“I had to come here to lend my voice and solidarity. Yeah, I happen to be a congresswoman, but before all the commas and titles, I’m a black woman. And Ilhan is my sister. […] I am changing the things I can no longer accept,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D – Massachusetts) said at the rally. “And from R. Kelly to Donald Trump, what we can no longer accept is the silencing of black women! This is a reckoning. This is us assuming our rightful place as the table shakers, as the truth tellers, as the justice seekers, as the preservers of democracy. We are demanding that you trust black women, that you see black women, that you believe black women and honor us for the role that we have played as healers and preservers of this democracy and this nation!”
Oprah Uses Award Platform to Discuss Equal Pay
The Hollywood Reporter’s awards luncheon celebrated a theme of #Empowerment with Oprah Winfrey as their top honoree. Upon accepting the Empowerment in Entertainment Award for her inclusion initiative, The Young Executives Fellowship, Oprah used her moment to discuss advocating for higher pay for herself and for other women, “I knew my value,” she said.
“So you know, it takes a while to develop a voice, but once you have it, you damn sure better use it on stuff that matters.”
Selena Gomez also introduced the twenty students who would be the first class of The Young Executives Fellowship.
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Today I accepted the @hollywoodreporter’s Empowerment in Entertainment Award in honor of their new inclusion initiative, The Young Executives Fellowship. Students in underserved schools will be given the chance to access the business, marketing, and filmmaking side of Hollywood, all with the intention of empowering this next generation. Check out my stories for more on the luncheon. #Empowerment 📸: @ruvenafanador
Female Pro Hockey Players Demand Parity
Two hundred female pro hockey players, including members of the USA national team who won gold at the 2018 Olympics, are “laying down their sticks” and refusing further participation in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). Many of the league members play with no health insurance and are ridiculously underpaid, making as low as $2,000 a season.
After the recent closure of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League due to funding and operational woes, the NWHL remains the only elite league in North America. The protest by players is designed to motivate the NHL to step in with more funding, a move that the current commissioner Gary Bettman is currently holding off on. Top NHL contracts command multi-million dollar deals, not to mention profitable endorsement partnerships.
“We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game,” A statement circulated by players and supporters alike. The statement cited that with the current funding and structure, players were not able to “adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level.”
“Because of that, together as players, we will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves. We may have represented different teams, leagues, and countries — but this sport is one family. And the time is now for this family to site. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for — our moment to come together and say we deserve more. It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women’s professional hockey in the world. #ForTheGame.”
Featured image via Medium
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.