We lost a legend. A true icon who empowered women and fought for equality. A trailblazer who endured bouts of misogyny in an effort to promote a more diverse and promising tomorrow. I could never imagine achieving a slither of what Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her lifetime. She is an untouchable idol I can only admire and respect.
Instead of regurgitating a biography of RBG’s entire life story, I want to highlight certain aspects of her life that have inspired me.
RBG was the second woman to be appointed as Supreme Court Justice but it was a long and difficult road. She grew up in a low-income, working class home in Brooklyn, NY. She devoted herself to her academics in the hopes of enrolling to university. Her mother was a tremendous support, emphasizing the importance of independence and education for women, while working as a garment worker to afford tuition fees. RBG once recalled, “My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady, and the other was to be independent.” Unfortunately, passed away from cancer the day before her high school graduation. It’s difficult to persevere following the death of a loved one.
Cancer is a real b*itch. It has become a haunting trend throughout RBG’s life, beginning with her mother and ending with her very own life. Her husband, whom she married in 1954, was diagnosed with testicular cancer while studying at Harvard Law with RBG. In June 2010, her husband passed away from cancer. RBG herself has had a few surgeries, procedures and treatments done for colon, pancreatic and lung cancer. She passed away on September 18, 2020 from complications with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Just as the world was stunned to discover that Chadwick Boseman was battling cancer for four years while filming some popular blockbusters, I am astonished and envious of the resilience of RBG throughout her own recovery process. Cancer wasn’t an excuse to skip a day at work!
The glass ceiling was beaten and battered quite a bit thanks to RBG. She was first in her class at Cornell University. She was one of eight women out of 500 students at Harvard Law School, and became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. She juggled the demands of being a student, wife, mother and caretaker during her time at Harvard, and would often take notes in class for her and her husband, who was dealing with testicular cancer. All the while, she was ridiculed for taking the space of a qualified male at the prestigious Ivy League, as though women aren’t as qualified or significant. She transferred to Columbia Law School where she eventually graduated in 1959, first in her class of course. She continued to teach at a few notable universities including her alma mater, where she became the first female tenured professor. We had an eminently bold, brainy and perceptive lawyer who was remarkably qualified for her future role as Supreme Court Justice. It’s peculiar how underqualified many current political candidates in office today are in relation to the late RBG.
Thanks to RBG, administrators of estates cannot discriminate based on sex (Reed v. Reed).
Thanks to RBG , the benefits provided to the families of military personnel cannot be altered because of sex (Frontiero v. Richardson).
Thanks to RBG, establishing different drinking ages by sex is deemed unconstitutional (Craig v. Boren).
Thanks to RBG, women have the right to an abortion of she so chooses (Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt).
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneer for women in various facets, and her final statement to her granddaughter was, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” It’s a bit chilling and unnerving. The timing seems almost symbolic. RBG served our country well, and was determined to carry on as long as possible to protect her seat. She recognized how powerful her position in the Supreme Court. Years of inclusive and progressive developments could be threatened instantly with a rushed, misguided nomination. Topics of women’s reproductive rights, LGTBQ+ rights, immigration reform, racial justice and healthcare rest in the hands of nine influential Supreme Court Justices, and the candidate expected to fill the shoes of the notorious RBG has a lot to prove.
Stay informed and alert. Remember to acknowledge the revolutionary work accomplished by Justice Ginsburg, and defend her efforts and the rights of your peers. She was a pioneer for women’s rights and helped shape the America we are living in today. She deserves her long awaited rest after her 27 years of service to the America people.