Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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    Tonight, Trump will be giving his State of the Union address to members of Congress, and it’s bound to leave us with tons to talk about. Whether you have the emotional energy to sit through the speech, or you’ll just be reading the major points afterwards, one thing you should educate yourself on is the lineup of awesome women who will attend as guests of leaders like Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Kamala Harris. Some of these guests are better known than others, but all of them are using their voices to change their communities—and the world. 

    1. Ana María Archila

    Ocasio-Cortez’s guest is the New York activist known best for confronting Jeff Flake in an elevator after the senator stated he would support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “He needed to understand that women feel incredibly enraged about the thought of our stories, and of our experiences of surviving sexual violence being dismissed, laughed at, disbelieved, and I think I just felt a great sense of urgency, and I think I saw in his face that he could not escape the emotion,” Archila told Anderson Cooper after the event.

    “Her act of bravery elevated the stories of survivors across the country and had a profound impact, changing the vote’s proceedings and our national conversation around believing survivors,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Instagram.

    2. Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik

    Kamala Harris announced several days ago on her website that her State of the Union guest will be an air traffic control specialist who lost her home in a California wildfire in 2017. “Since the tragic loss of their home, Trisha, [her husband], and their three children have worked diligently to bounce back and reestablish a sense of normalcy in their lives, even amidst an unnecessary government shutdown,” Harris wrote in her statement. (Pesiri-Dybvik’s husband, she explained, worked without pay for over a month through the recent government shutdown.)

    “I am grateful to Senator Harris for inviting me to be her guest to the State of the Union this year and humbled to be the face of my fellow Californians who have been affected by the government shutdown and recent wildfires,” Pesiri-Dybvik said, also according to Harris’ website.

    3. Consuela Barber-Lopez

    Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib shared on Twitter that she’ll be bringing a local organizer, Consuela Barber-Lopez, with her to the address. “From environmental and economic justice to stopping the deportation of our neighbors, Consuela is a driving force,” Tlaib said.   

    4. Nicole Smith-Holt

    Senator Amy Klobuchar will bring a Minnesota mother who lost her son in 2017; he had type 1 diabetes and died after not being able to afford insulin. Smith-Holt has since been advocating for affordable insulin for those living with type 1 diabetes. In a tweet, Smith-Holt wrote, “I am honored to attend the 2019 SOTU as Senator Klobuchar’s guest. Senator Klobuchar has been a supporter of #Insulin4All and is working hard to pass laws that lower insulin prices in the US to protect all T1Ds.”

    5. Estefany Pineda

    Rep. Ayanna Pressley will bring University of Massachusetts student and DACA recipient Estefany who, according to Senator Ed Markey on Twitter, came to the U.S. at nine years old to escape violence in El Salvador, and is currently studying International Relations and Public Policy.

    “Estefany, I am so honored to have you join me as my guest today. Your advocacy on behalf of your community and on behalf of Dreamers, TPS and Asylum seekers everywhere inspires us,” Pressley shared on Twitter.

    Top photo: Ana María Archila and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, via YouTube / popdemoc

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    New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is known for being outspoken and progressive. She’s been dubbed as part of “The Squad,” an informal title for a group of four progressive women who were elected in 2018. Other members include Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. It comes as no surprise that Ocasio-Cortez’s views aren’t popular with everyone, especially her colleagues across the aisle.

    But what did come as a surprise was when Florida Representative Ted Yoho accosted Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, June 20th. Yoho was coming down the steps to the Capitol building while Ocasio-Cortez was going in to cast a vote. In a heated exchange between the two representatives, Yoho allegedy called Ocasio-Cortez “disgusting” for suggesting that unemployment and poverty were the driving forces of a spike in crime in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Yoho, allegedly, told the congresswoman that she was “out of her freaking mind,” while Ocasio-Cortez replied that he was being “rude.” As the two parted ways, Yoho said to no one in particular, “Fucking bitch.”

    Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill, “That kind of confrontation hasn't ever happened to me — ever. I've never had that kind of abrupt, disgusting kind of disrespect levied at me.” While Ocasio-Cortez is used to targeted harassment from conservatives - stating that she’s “no stranger to this” - she says that the confrontation with Yoho was something new. She also stated that she has “never, ever been treated that way by another member before. I’m frankly quite taken aback.”

    Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to make further statements where she stated, “I never spoke to Rep. Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday.” She also took a jab at Yoho’s professionalism as she stated that she and her other GOP colleagues, “know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door.”

    Representative Ted Yoho has yet to make a statement. When asked for one by The Hill, he simply stated, “No comment.”

    Texas Representative Roger Williams was in the vicinity when the confrontation took place, but he stated that he wasn’t paying attention. He stated, “I was actually thinking, as I was walking down the stairs, I was thinking about some issues I've got in my district that need to get done.” Ocasio-Cortez called this out in another tweet saying that he was lying and joined in with Yoho.

    Many people have come to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense over this confrontation including former Secretary of State John Kerry, Representative Dean Phillips, Representative Ruben Gallego, among others. Misogynistic language like Yoho used has no place in Congress or anywhere. While GOP members might disagree with Ocasio-Cortez’s positions, just like she might disagree with theirs, harassment is never okay.

    The targeted harassment of Representative Ocasio-Cortez from the right has been very obvious over the years she’s been in Congress, but we’ve never seen such blatant harassment from inside the Congress. It is fine to have disagreements with people, but Yoho crossed a line by accosting Ocasio-Cortez and using misogynistic language. But as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez says, “‘b*tches’ get stuff done.”

    Header photo via Flickr Creative Commons / NRKbeta

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