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  • To me it is all about the words spoken. I am not for or against a political party or for or against a particular individual.

    I grew up in Argentina in a typical middle class home where dad went off to work but mom was a strong woman who made all the important decisions in our lives - including our emigrating to the United States. She was convinced her children would have a better future in this country, and she was right.

    Obtaining a BA in French Literature, I ended up working for a bank and a career in the Foreign Exchange markets. I was the first female officer in the trading room at Citibank. In those days, before diversity training, there were many jokes aimed at women which I put up with because I didn't know any better, although I had just quit my first job because I was not allowed to wear a pant suit to the office. On Park Avenue, women were marching and demanding equality, burning their bras to symbolize freedom. When they arrived in front of Citibank, they demanded to see at least one woman Vice President: a grave error in judgement because there was ONE woman Vice President, and only one.

    I worked hard to do a job that only men were allowed to do in those days. I put my head down and tried not to be too good or too fast or too showy, lest anyone pay too much attention. When I was finally promoted to officer level, I broke the sex barrier at the officer’s dining room rest room, which unto that time, had just been a MENS ROOM. Nothing like peeing in a men’s room to give a woman a sense of freedom.

    It wasn’t easy. Being a good looking woman helped but also detracted from my business acumen. I knew I was paid less than my fellow men. I knew that I deserved more. In those days, complaining was not an option. You just kept your head down.

    Over the years, despite of or because of my success, I had to put up with jeers, with snide remarks, with sexual innuendo and with being excluded from the men’s club. This went on whether I tried to be “one of the boys” or not. With the passing of years, and the changing of laws, the mood in trading rooms changed but not entirely. I will never forget the day my boss at a well known bank gave me a thermos which I opened in front of everyone in the trading room, out of which popped out a giant sized penis. Yes. This was a few days after I had appeared on a European National Television as an example of a top female executive.

    It did not help that I was Latin American. I was asked about the color of my skin, questioned about my Irish heritage. How was it possible to be “white” and to be Latina? I fought tooth and nail. I worked my butt off to show that I could be as good as any guy around, or better.

    As time passed, I felt we were making progress. I was leading the Diversity Efforts at American Express, and passed on my learnings to top executives and to the Board. Even so, there was always the shadow of not getting the level of respect I deserved, and of course, the salary and bonuses were never at the level of the guys. Believe me, this is no sour grapes. Despite it all, I loved my job, and I would do it all over again. And I would fight the fight all over again. For my daughters and for my granddaughters, but mostly for us. All of us.

    And now, this. There is a man running for the highest office in the land, who is trying to reverse all of our efforts for equality. His words hurt me personally in the deepest areas of my soul. He calls Mexicans murderers and rapists. He says Muslims should be banned from our country. His hurtful words about women? Can’t even comment on that. His attacks on the birthright of our first African American President are shameful.

    A vote for those words are a vote against me, against my Mexican neighbour who works three jobs to feed her family, against my Muslim friend, against my daughters and granddaughters, my sons and grandsons. A vote for those words is a vote against the basis on which this nation was founded. That all are created equal.

    Again I would like to say: this is not about partisanship. It is about standing up for rights for which we fought for so many years. It is about incendiary words that lead to incendiary actions. It is about pronouncing words that affect all of us, but most particularly women and minorities.

    It is the words that are aimed at all of us, because E PLURIBUS UNUM.
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