Jun. 26, 2011 @ 6:30 PM _
I got a message yesterday from a reader in response to my short on her Majesty Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In essence, the response in essence said that Sirleaf only had what she had because she was privileged, because after all, she went to Harvard.
This message bothered me for a few reasons. One is that not everyone that goes to Ivy League schools was born into privileged households. To generalize all people who attend such schools is a misnomer. Sirleaf waited tables to put herself through Harvard, for example.
The other is that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not start off by attending Harvard. She first attended a school in Africa and then another in the United States. Even if she started out at Harvard, nothing should be taken away from her accomplishments or her character.
It is my belief that Sirleaf could have very easily established a comfortable life in America after living in Boston. She did not. She chose to leave after receiving her education to work towards the betterment of her home country. That did not come easily, either.
Around the time Sirleaf returned to Liberia she was under the rule of the 21st president, Samuel Doe. (Doe was a corrupt leader who landed the country in coups and major civil wars. His regime had many men fleeing the country. Not to mention, he and his men disemboweled the 20th president in his sleep.)
She spoke out against his military regime and was imprisoned for 10 years. Last time I checked, that was not what privilege was about.
Even if she did come from a privileged life, silver spoon and all, so what? Does it really matter? It isn’t about the privilege or lack thereof that matters, it’s what one does with what they have that really counts. And her majesty definitely took full advantage of her opportunities."I have a great responsibility to meet the expectations of Liberian and African women."