Tarika Barrett

"Today, it’s my responsibility and my privilege to honor these women through a relentless pursuit of a more equitable world, ensuring that their struggles are not in vain."

I stand on the shoulders of generations of inspiration, of the women who got me to where I am today and the girls who inspire me to keep working for a better future. Back in Jamaica, my grandmother dropped out of school so she could work on the family farm and support her seven younger siblings. Our family lived off the land, cultivating staples of Jamaican cuisine like yams, sweet potatoes, callaloo and cabbage. After the harvest, she would travel four hours by bus or truck to Kingston, where she would sell the family’s crops at the local market. Even though her own education was cut short, she instilled in her four children the idea that education could pry open the doors of opportunity. That inspiration led her daughter, my mum, to go on to become the first in our family to go to college and get a graduate degree, all the way down to me. I think about the struggles they endured — of my grandmother working on her family’s farm, of my mum dealing with the challenges of being a single parent — and I consider them to be my positive triggers. They propel me forward. I feel the same way about the young women in the Girls Who Code community. They show up every single day, in spite of. In spite of the challenges of this current moment, in spite of the frustration of spending their third year of school in a pandemic, in spite of caregiving responsibilities and part-time jobs. They do so because, like my grandmother and mum, they believe in the need to fight hard for their own future. Today, it’s my responsibility and my privilege to honor these women through a relentless pursuit of a more equitable world, ensuring that their struggles are not in vain.

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