CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!
Will you join us in celebrating Karen with a special gift today?
KAREN BLAIR TROIANELLO
"I look around at all the women who have made differences in the world and I did it so I could run around the track a few more times." – Karen Blair Troianello
Running. An ancient form. A way of life. A biological response. The means to an end. Your last stride represents who you were. The next stride represents who you want to be. The kinetics involved are the lesser part of the equation. As the world’s most efficient machines, we make this evolutionary avocation look easy. However, Karen wasn’t just running around the track; she was doing her part to set the pace for a society that was beginning to move in a different direction.
Karen’s journey with Legal Voice began in 1979 when she was the named plaintiff in Blair v. Washington State University. The lawsuit was filed under the state’s equal rights amendment because a victory under Title IX would’ve been less likely. Title IX was still relatively new. The oath-keepers of the patriarchy had made sure that achieving gender equity in athletics was going to be a prolonged and cumbersome affair. Karen jokes that she is a part of our story because of where her name lands in the alphabet, but a surname comes absent of bold proclamations. Putting the world on notice is a process, not a moment that ends in grand culmination.
How does a country that discourages the spirit of competition in the hearts and minds of women give rise to an 8th grader who defiantly cross-stitches “Women’s Lib?” on an apron made in a home economics class that she was forced to take? The thread of dissent didn’t die with Karen’s caustic sloganeering. It became the fabric of a track uniform in a future that eagerly awaited her arrival. She would become a torchbearer attempting to create a cavalcade of brighter tomorrows. The Bellingham High School Hall of Fame has attested to that.
"An untold number of women had to sacrifice so that women like Karen
could be allowed to lace up their running shoes or find careers in newsrooms.”
Runners don’t ever stop running because there are always races left to win. Lessons Karen learned from her athletic pursuits have remained entrenched in the work she has done in newspaper newsrooms across Washington State. She continues to draw inspiration from women like Rep. Edith Starrett Green, who played a pivotal role in Title IX being passed, while being a localized testament to progress and determination. An untold number of women had to sacrifice so that women like Karen could be allowed to lace up their running shoes or find careers in newsrooms. "I think there is so much value in recognizing the contributions of a group of people who are certainly not a monolith," she says.
The appreciation for a discernible past is a reminder to the women of today that they are the difference. Karen's vision for the future of feminism? Radical women. Undeterred by the constraints of yesterday. With cunningness and adeptness at all hours. Giving so much that selling themselves short is never an option. Taking their fights to the streets, school boards, and city councils until their voices become policy.
“What I would want for [young people] is that they have the confidence and the strength to pursue what they really want. Be unafraid. Don’t be afraid of setting goals and wanting to chase a career.”
There are still races left to win.
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This piece was based on an interview with Karen Blair Troianello and written by Phil Bouie. MORE STORIES