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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just summed up why women need to stop being polite

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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In a powerful speech at the 2019 Women’s March, the congresswoman spoke about the need for women’s voices to be heard. 

Meteorologists were predicting snow but 19 January, the day of the 2019 Women’s March in New York, dawned with a crisp but flurry-less sky.

A crowd of men and women gathered in Manhattan’s Foley Square wrapped up against the inclement weather and carrying placards, many of them bearing slogans referencing Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next and Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. (“The life changing magic of Time’s Up,” one sign read.) The attendees were there to listen to a number of speeches from different women sharing their hopes for the progression of the feminist movement in 2019.

One of those speakers was 29-year-old congresswoman for the Bronx Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever to be elected to the House of Representatives in the history of American politics. Since she was sworn into her role at the start of the month, Ocasio-Cortez has continually made headlines, whether by calling President Donald Trump a “racist” or protesting against the Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stance on climate change.

It is this passion and a steely determination to no longer stay quiet because it is the “polite” thing to do that Ocasio-Cortez drew on in her speech at the Women’s March.

“Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet,” Ocasio-Cortez addressed the crowds. “In fact, oftentimes the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.”

“Justice,” she continued, “is not a concept that we read about in a book. Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy it is to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid. Justice is about if we can stay with our children after we have them for a just amount of time, mothers, fathers and all parents.”

For Ocasio-Cortez and for every woman listening in the audience, the moment was a powerful one. Referencing her own historic victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and the victories of the record-breaking 90 women voted into congress, Ocasio-Cortez predicted a bright future for women in politics. 

Ocasio-Cortez at the 2019 Women’s March

“Last year we took the power to the polls and this year we’re taking power to the policy because have taken back the House of Representatives. And that’s just step one,” she said. “This year we are going to organize, this year we are going to fight for voting rights, this year we’re going to keep pushing because in 2018 we took the House of Representatives and in 2020 we’re going to take the White House and the Senate too.”

She continued: “We need to advance and fight for an America where all people are welcome and no people are left behind. I know that while this year has been historic there are a lot more Congresswoman left here in this audience right now. There’s a lot more city council women, there’s a lot more workers that will be building business, there’s a lot more, and I know that there’s a future president out here too. Let us remember that a fight means no person left behind.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s impassioned speech is the second time her words have gone viral this week. The congresswoman’s first address to parliament on the human impact of Trump’s C-SPAN to become the most-viewed Twitter video of any speech from a member of the House, with more than 1.16 million views in its first 12 hours. The video is now up to more than 3.29 million watches.

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Ocasio-Cortez has also been named the political figure with the second highest engagement on Twitter, her level of activity and investment on the social media platform outstripped only by Trump.

That’s an incredible statistic, given that this time last year Ocasio-Cortez was still working in a bar in Midtown and, at the time, a complete unknown. 

In February 2018 she decided to quit mixing margaritas and devote herself to mounting a campaign for the Democratic endorsement for the 14th congressional district in the Bronx. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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