It was 2014, and an African-American boy by the name of George Stinney had finally been exonerated—70 years after he’d been wrongfully convicted of murdering two white girls in segregated South Carolina. Sadly, his exoneration meant little since he had already been executed for a crime he didn’t commit. He was only 14 at the time.
At that point, I had been hosting The Young Turks for eight years—so I was used to covering stories of injustice. But when I thought about the horror and fear that that innocent 14-year-old kid must have felt before being executed, I lost my composure on-air. I couldn’t hold back my tears. I became emotional, and at the time I was wrongfully embarrassed because of it. But our audience immediately began sending me tweets to express that they found my reaction touching and compassionate.
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It was at that point that I decided not to hide my emotions in the workplace anymore. After all, when men feel “emotional,” their tone is usually described as passionate. But when women use the same exact tone, they’re immediately written off for being overly emotional.
The reality is that passion and emotion go hand-in-hand. In fact, passion is an intense emotion that displays compelling enthusiasm for something. If people are anything but enthusiastic about the information or ideas that they’re sharing, they’re either not that invested in what they’re doing—or they’re not communicating that investment effectively.
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Yes, words like bossy, shrill and moody are used to describe women who speak up at work and give voice to their passion—but I believe this negative commentary is meant to keep critical thinkers quiet. So I’ve decided not to allow the critics to shut me up—and I hope you’ll do the same.
As Hunter S. Thompson said, “Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.” So do it with passion, or not at all.
Ana Kasparian is co-host of the online news show The Young Turks.