I told my mom recently, "there a lot of women who tell me that they struggle to speak out against injustice because they were taught to be quiet, and..." I paused and said "nice?" We both just stared at each other trying to comprehend that.
ALWAYS being nice even if someone is doing something wrong?
I was never taught that. Never modeled that.
None of us buy a car without my mom - even my brother - because she is so good at negotiating, doesn't tolerate any bullshit.
THAT'S what I grew up with.
I don't mean any disrespect against teaching kids kindness and compassion - that's so important! But I do hope that we are now educating our daughters to be feisty and speak out against injustice. We've spent too many generations teaching young girls to be silent out of fear of being disliked.
And of course, we need to teach our boys to speak out for others, AND be considerate, compassionate, and sensitive - not just to their own emotions which is where I think a lot of dudes get confused - but to *other* people's feelings.
As all of you know - especially my family - I can't shut up.
Literally minutes after leaving the Patty Murray award event, I saw some white dude around my age yelling at the protestors in the street saying they were wasting taxpayers money - they were protesting a youth jail, a fairly non-controversial cause!! - and I couldn't help it, I was like "dude, are you serious? You're hollering at kids in the street who are trying to protect other kids?? Seriously?"
And he started backing away from me.
Of course. That's why I said something. Because a guy like him is going to have a harder time yelling at ME than kids with piercings.
That's called "using my privilege."
I'm jealous of people that can stay quiet. I really am.
I've tried so many times.
I remember trying in school. Whenever we broke down into groups, I'd instruct myself "let someone else be in charge. Be quiet. JUST. SIT. BACK."
And nothing would happen. People sat around spinning their pens over their notebooks.
Blarg! Dammit! "Fine! This is how we can organize the group..." and everyone would perk up and start taking notes because they knew it would get done.
I don't want to be the obnoxious, loud person hollering "fascists, fascists, corruption, unscrupulous adults taking advantage of children!" in the street day after day.
Who the fuck would?
This work is EXHAUSTING.
For the disabled and the parents of disabled people and children and a handful of able-bodied adults who work for the Cause because they can't stay quiet either.*
I don't know what's harder for me.
People who do nothing.
Or, people who try to hold people like me back.
Which I don't like. But I'm used it.
People - mostly women, dudes usually respect my work - have been trying to hold me back for as long as I can remember.
I get it. I've also tried to hold MYSELF back so many times! Toss myself off this strange path of mine.
But it's like Groundhog Day. No matter what I do. No matter what anyone else tries to do, I'm back on this path.
And I get that I have other options. I'm a survivor. I'll do what I have to do.
But I've come this far now, for so long, on my own. And bad things seem to happen whenever I try to GET off this path.
So I've resigned myself to this strange road I'm wandering down.
I might as well lean into it now.
I will keep using this voice of mine. No matter how weak I get. Or if a cancer comes back. Or, if I'm forced onto tube feeding for the rest of my life.
I won't shut up.
I'm going to be the obnoxious leader who grabs the microphone and starts organizing everybody.
And speaking out against injustice and protecting the children, and the voiceless.
I'm heartened now by how many people are stepping up for the kids now. How they are mobilizing so many people, all ages, so many backgrounds.
These kids are restoring my faith. My hope. My belief in humanity.
They are reminding me why I speak up in the first place.
Always. For them.
[[I have no idea why I chose this photo or this story tonight. Didn't come out as easily as the others. I think I'm struggling with how to wrap up this series. I have only 8 stories left after this and I want the last one to be a tattoo again. This photo was taken in Brazil, I think around 2004??]]