***The following may be triggering for some readers***
We had the privilege to chat with Mirashaye Basa who just moved from small town Indiana to Washington D.C. We know Mirashaye through Brizzy–they met working together in retail. Mirashaye graduated high school this year and made her move to the state capital to study political science at American University. We met with her a few months ago before she left to discuss gun control–and then followed up a few weeks back during the Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh trial (where Mirashaye was in attendance to march) to discuss sexual assault awareness. Heavy topics, so we have to provide a warning.
Below is Mirashaye’s email:
Hey beauties! Hope everything is well!
So here’s the story of how I got to be where I am today.
I used to be completely ignorant to current events and basically anything that didn’t revolve around me. I didn’t care about the government or politics, I wasn’t very aware of human rights issues, hell I was the type of person who thought that I didn’t need to keep up with politics (especially since I couldn’t vote at the time) because none of it affected me.
I remember the exact time when I knew I needed to start keeping up with the news. It was fall break during my junior year, 2016. The election was obviously a hot topic. My friends were having a discussion, and I said that I didn’t know what I believed in. They were all shocked! It was really embarrassing, actually. I was so uninformed.
So I was like, “Man, I really need to get on this.” I remember asking my friend Emily what I should believe in because I had no idea where to even begin. Most of my views were very conservative because of how I was raised, but I was very open minded to her ideas. I started doing research, staying updated on current issues, and eventually started deciphering exactly what I believed in.
What I failed to realize was how many of these issues revolved around me! My parents, grandparents, and cousins are all immigrants, I am a woman of color, etc. Once I got caught up and figured out my personal opinions, I was encouraged to do something about them. The events that I saw on the news started to infuriate me. I was beginning to understand the polarization in this country.
I started to get involved with groups such as March for Our Lives, campaigned for a democratic congressional candidate in my district, and led the National Walkout Day at my school. Many things have transpired since 2016, it’s insane to think about! But the leaders of movements like Me Too and March For Our Lives motivate me every single day.
Sit down and ask yourself, ‘What is the most important thing to me?’ What grosses me out the most? What makes me the most upset — is it healthcare? Is it so many people being hungry in our culture? Is it sexual abuse? Mix that with doing something you love, something you could keep doing forever and ever. For me it was ending violence against women, and I mixed it with music. And I’ve had a 25-year career. So that’s my advice: Find something you really care about and mix that with something you love doing. — Kathleen Hanna
Right now I am on a pre-law track, but that is subject to change of course. I am extremely passionate about activism, which is why I am here! Washington is wonderful! The city is absolutely amazing. My classes are challenging but enlightening; we often use the city as our learning lab. College is quite the culture shock though. We have recently been ranked as the number one most politically-active school in the nation. Like most of the students here, I am always prepared to rant and discuss current issues regarding human rights!
On the record, going to the Kavanaugh protest was one of the most empowering experiences I have ever been a part of. Seeing hundreds of women (both survivors and supporters), children, and even men of all colors and religions stand up to a system that has been rigged against women, was so powerful.
Unfortunately, one of my friends who was also at the protest told me that there were both women and men who were counter protesting and holding signs that said “I stand with Kavanaugh.” Although I didn’t see it for myself, this infuriated me. A few days after the protest, one of my former high school classmates commented “So much for innocent until proven guilty” on my Instagram picture (feel free to go back to my profile to see the short argument). Several things about that statement. First of all, I get it. I understand that the law is based on a system in which everyone has the right to due process, and I believe in that. However, it also drives the belief that people who make sexual assault accusations are all lying until their attacker is proven guilty. This is something that we must absolutely strive to change. After all, 97% of sexual assault cases are true. I believe that part of our mission is to normalize the idea of believing survivors FIRST. We have to replace “He is innocent until proven guilty” with “She is telling the truth until you can prove otherwise.”
So many men, especially in the current administration, underestimate the power of women. We are strong as hell, and regardless of whether or not Kavanuagh is confirmed (God forbid), we WILL win the fight. Showing up to a protest is only part of the fight, and if he is confirmed, we’ll just have to use that as motivation to continue the battle. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” If there is one thing that they will remember us for, it will be our resilience. We are the future, and I think that we are beginning to make that clear. Women are lovers, fighters, healers, teachers, and leaders. Women are the survivors of the “Me Too” movement, the gun violence activists in Moms Demand Action, the politicians in the White House, the victims of child marriages, the educators within our school systems.
Women do it all, yet, our voices are still silenced. This is why it is incredibly important, especially during this time, to empower one another. This is something that should unite us all, regardless of our individual politics. We are tired of not being acknowledged. We are tired of not being appreciated. We are tired of not being heard. We are tired. We are tired. We are tired.
If there is one thing that they will remember us for, it will be our resilience.
I’m not sure if Brizzy remembers this, but I remember it clearly, and I’ve looked back on this moment a few times in my life. I remember working with Brizzy once at Aero, and I saw one of my female classmates, one that I particularly did not like. I expressed this to Brizzy, and she said, “Honey, I know that right now you may not completely understand this, but girls need to stick together. We have to be there for each other, even if we don’t like each other.” I brushed it off at first because I was pretty ignorant up until my junior year of high school, but now it resonates with me. So thank you.
Ever since I was little, I always knew I wanted to change the world somehow. My initial goal was to sing “You Are My Sunshine” to the entire world, but that dream may have to wait. Seeing all of the recent activism has made me realize that I am made to do so much. I am meant to change the world. I wanted to be in a place that would enable me to do that on a larger, more impactful scale, so I chose American University in D.C. I wanted to be at the heart of the policy.
Right now, I would really love to be a lawyer and work for the ACLU, or any civil rights organization really. But for now, that’s the goal! In the future, I’d like to be an inspirational figure to the world, in the same light as Mother Teresa or Malala. I just want to empower and inspire people all around the world. There are a lot of awful things in this world, but it is in these moments of divisiveness that we also find great strength and unity within the community of people who want to make a change in the world.