By Laura Hernandez
For most of my life, I watched in awe of my Mom, Barbie Hernandez who was always organizing something. Whether she was organizing a Christmas party for needy kids or working to get women – specifically woman of color appointed to boards or commissions my Mom was a ball of fire. She worked for then San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros so she was no stranger in town. Everyone knew Barbie. People still tell me that when they needed anything, they just called Barbie because she would always help them out. Helping out is just what she did. She loved being the voice for those that did not have a voice. She towered at 4 foot 9 inches (if you rounded up generously) but she was fierce when it came to women’s rights. She carried a red purse as a symbol of the woman’s purse being in the red. She went on the head a prominent business woman’s organization in Texas that had largely catered to White older business women. She believed that to really make change, you had to go and get a seat at the table and the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women (TFBPW) lacked women of color in their leadership ranks. She worked her way up the leadership chain and got that coveted seat and brought other women along with her. She urged TFBPW to understand that while White women made $.29 less on the dollar than their male counter parts, the pay gap was larger for women of color and they could not be silent on that fact.
My Mom did all of this as a single parent. She and my father never married. He opted out of the fatherhood thing before I was born and denied I was his. She kept her nose to the grindstone and with the help of my grandparents, her siblings and government programs, we made it out of poverty. Sadly, my Mom succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer before her first grandson was born. She is not here to witness our 45th POTUS but I cannot let her work for most of her adult life be in vain. I also cannot let my son think this is a new way of life. I went to organizing meetings with my Mom so it made sense to take my son to the Women’s March. He asked me to make signs for him and he had specific language for each sign. He was inspired by watching Hidden Figures on MLK day. My Mom used to tell me that I was her inspiration for the work she did. I would not be discriminated because of my gender and race. I would have more opportunity and I certainly would not end up an unwed single parent. I am now marching, organizing and resisting the policies of our 45th POTUS because my son will not be discriminated against because he is Mexican. Unlike my Mom, he will not be punished for or afraid of speaking Spanish in public. I marched because I know what an impact watching my Mom raise hell had on my life and I want to have the same impact on my son.