Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City. I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried. Dred Scott v. Sanford.
When I was sentenced to seven years in prison, I had no idea what I would do with my life after my period of incarceration. My life was filled with abuse, addiction, and crime. Trying to become gainfully employed and make a livable wage became one of my greatest challenges post-prison. In my hometown, there were 210 professions I could not even participate in solely based on my criminal record. I had lost my dignity, had zero self-esteem, and felt stuck. After some serious self-reflection about the reality of the situation and having so many natural barriers, I recognized the greatest block was my own way of thinking. I had to ask myself: what do I have, and what can I do with what I have?
Have you ever wondered why women have been kept out of board rooms? Or why we have seen very few female world leaders? Why is our advanced world still holding back power from the beings that birthed us? Divine feminine energy has long been oppressed and possessed by those who would like to own this power for themselves. This imbalance has caused disease, famine and war. Fueled by greed these people and structures have used fear to rule the planet. There is a better way, we only have to look to a not-so-distant past where indigenous people honored the divine feminine within, and all around them. Our ancestors survived for thousands of years on systems built with divine feminine and divine masculine balance in leadership.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun! Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
Racism is a multifaceted monster that thrives on visual and audible cues. From elementary to high school, as a person of color, I experienced what I can only describe as counter-cultural racism. I felt severely isolated and often degraded by the Black community. As a result, I had many more white friends than Black for most of my life. As I got older, my interactions with white women would sting with traces of biased and superior behavior. This was painful and unexpected, and again, I felt isolated and at times degraded.
Dr. Claudia Consolati is Assistant Professor of Film, Gender, and Sexuality and the founder of The Women Speak Up Project, a platform to help visionary women entrepreneurs overcome their fear of being seen & heard so that they can grow their business and income. She believes that finding your voice is the #1 business asset for women with big dreams and want to make a big impact in the world. She's regularly invited to speak at prestigious universities across the US and Canada.