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Young People on Their Most Important Woman

NAM Youth Collective, Commentary, Various Authors Posted: Mar 25, 2010

Editors Note: For Womens History Month, New America Media asked young people to describe the woman they look up to the most. Most pointed to women in their own family, especially their mothers and grandmothers. Commentaries were solicited and edited by YO! Youth Outlook, Silicon Valley Debug, and the KNOw.

No One Else Like Mom
My mom gave birth to and raised 11 children. She is an awesome person, always giving and kind. No one else makes my life as great as she does. She cant really speak or understand English, but she knows that education is the key to a successful future. She literally does everything for all of my siblings and me. She cooks, cleans and cares for all of us. All she asks is for us to try our best in school and take our education seriously.

Shes been through so much as a Hmong refugee who escaped the war in Laos and came to America. My father passed away a few years ago, so she plays the role of both my mom and dad and keeps the family under control and together. This amazing woman completed my childhood and gave me memories that are priceless and deserves recognition for the sacrifices she has made for her children.
-Angelina Thao, 17

My Amazing Grams
My Grams is the most important person in my life. My life was a mess before I met her, but I didnt realize that everything she gave me was what I needed. Every time I was in trouble she was there for me, and I realize there isnt anything I can do to repay for her for everything she has done.
My grandma didnt get an education, but she is a smart and wise person. She provides the house we live in, the food we eat, and the clothes we wear. My grandma is The Man! She does my grandpas job, too. My grams changed my life because if I didnt have her, I would probably be with an alcoholic mother who beats me, and then I would be in the streets.

My grandma has overcome many obstacles in her lifetime. She had to start work at age six. Her mom abandoned her, so her sister raised her and her siblings. My grandma had eight kids who grew up to be gang bangers. Now they regret ever hurting her. As a matter of fact, she still helps them. At least one out of eight is in a stable place and has a family and job because he listened. The others regret not listening. And me, I regret too, but I know that its not too late. She most definitely deserves more than I could offer. I know Im trying my best to make the most important woman in my life happier.
-Maria Valdez, 15

My Superwoman
I am not here to speak about any normal woman. In fact, she isn't even a woman yet. To tell you the truth, shes only 11 years old.

She is my youngest sister. She is one of four siblings in a family of six. She has an imagination that is unique--she transforms wire ties into people, constructs Leggo blocks into time machines. She's on the honor roll.

She was born prematurely due to a car accident that induced contractions. My little sister was not my father's child. She has these eyes that are dark and full of pain. She tells our cousins she looks different from the rest of our immediate siblings. She doesn't actually know the truth yet.

When I was 11, I didnt do well in school. I mouthed off to my teachers and was an all-around bad kid. In fact, I still do this, but whats different now is that Ive got a felony and Im going to college. My sister inspires me to reach for the stars because she doesn't care what anybody says. She's a Super Woman. I know at the bottom of my heart that she's going to do something that will exceed anything I ever thought was possible. I just pray to God that everything will end up good for my sister because I would never want her to feel how terrible the world really is.

Mother Kim, Auntie Jan: Most Important Ladies
The women who deservers the most credit in my life are my mother, Kim, and my Auntie Jan. I said my mother first because shes been there when I needed her the most. However, when I was young, my mom gave my three brothers and me to one of our aunts. That is where Auntie Jan came in. She raised me for almost half my life, starting in preschool. We lived in San Francisco, and she had four girls who were all older then me. I liked living with her. I was the only boy and the youngest, so I always felt special. What I didn't like is that I had to get Payless shoes that were not cool.

When my mom got better, she took back me and one of my little brothers. Living with my mom was cool because I basically got to do what I wanted. It was only my little brother and I at the house. No one was around because my mom was at work. My mom always did the best she could.

I did well in school until sixth grade, After that, my grades starting going down, and I even got kicked out of a school within the first month. The bad part was that my mom had to take off work, lose money and risk the possibility of getting fired because of me.

Before I even got a chance to start high school, I went to juvenile hall. My parole officer wanted to send me far away, so my auntie talked to the judge and asked if I could move in with her because she lived in Vallejo. The judge agreed. This time around I didnt really like staying with my aunt. Her daughters were grown up so it felt like I was the only child. My aunt and uncle said I had to get good grades or I couldnt do anything. I had to be at the house when the streetlights came on, so I got mad when it got dark outside by 5 p.m.

I know everything my aunt and uncle did for me was out of love. Im glad they did what they did because I graduated from high school. Now, I look back at all that happened, and Im glad for the good and bad times. I love my Auntie Jan and my mother with all my heart. They are the most important ladies in my life.
-Jaquan Rushing, 20

My Graceful Grandmother
My grandmother was born in Palestine to an American mother and Palestinian father. She is the youngest of three children. Her parents were both teachers and activists. She met my grandfather, married him, and had two daughters. She knew he was a scoundrel when she got married, but she married his anyway because she was pregnant. My grandmother left when my mother was four, and two years later my grandfather killed himself. Although it was horrible, my grandmother felt she had lost my grandfather a long time before he died.

My grandmother was left to raise my aunt and mom as a single mother. She worked as an artist and art teacher and struggled with money, barely scraping by. Despite struggling, she was still able to raise two remarkable women. After her daughters left to lead their own lives, my grandmother traveled with her second husband to the Middle East to study textiles and weaving. She has recently published a book about her travels and research.

My grandmother inspires me because shes always dealt with struggles gracefully. She rarely loses her temper and doesn't let things overwhelm her; she takes them in stride. She taught me fight for myself and not let anything stand in the way of what I truly want to do.

When I was going through an intense period of loss and betrayal, she listened to me. I began living with her during a period of family hardship. Today, I live with her in Berkeley. My grandmother supported me and has always been generous and forgiving. She is proud to see me pursue my goals and try to make myself better. I see a grace and wisdom in her that I hope I can possess one day.
--Yasmine El-Safy, 18

The Soul Of My Family
One woman who doesnt get enough credit is my grandmother because she does so much more than meets the eye. My grandma overcame both of her parents passing away and then moved out to San Francisco from the Indian reservation with no money in her pockets. She overcame having an abusive and drunk husband. She overcame having five children naturally and seeing relatives pass away before their time. She overcame having to put her oldest daughter in the earth.

Im most thankful to my grandmother for raising me when my own mother didnt want me. At the time, my grandmother was working to become a registered nurse, and she quit her job to take care of me. I dont think she gets enough credit because shes full-blood Native American and doesnt talk much about herself or her life. In our culture, were not supposed to tell people our problems or struggles. Its shamefulkind of like how were not suppose to cry in front of people because theyll assume were weak.

My grandma taught me to be a young lady with manners and to be helpful and kind to people who are less fortunate. She baby-sits for everyone in my family, including me. I feel bad about it sometimes, but then she reminds me about how much she loves seeing and spending time with my son.

She is the soul of my family. She is the sound of the ocean that relaxes and calms you when you are struggling; she is the mother I never had; she is the sweetest feeling that humans can endure; she is the strongest person in the universe; she is the person you can run to when you need help; she is kind to all, regardless of race, sex, or religion.

She is my grandmother but she will always be my mother in my eyes. I wish there was a way to honor her for everything shes done.
Valerie Klinker, 19

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