I must be honest with you, for the second time in a week you’ve made me flash a smile. My pearly whites weren’t shining because your questions get hopeful liberals like me, one step closer to the impeachment dreams we replay nightly after fighting off coffee and insomnia. I smiled because you didn’t back down when men (presumably some of the most influential in Congress) told you in the most politically correct way to can it, or shut your pie hole. To say it plainly, you didn’t shut up when they spoke over you. Some might say many women have been there and already done that. All over the country women are writing, calling and texting their representatives and picketing in front of their state buildings and I have joined alongside these women who refuse to let men dictate the final say about not only women’s bodies, but all laws and policy. But truth is, women are still silenced, and unless your Oprah, not many of us girls, especially women of color get to keep our jobs and speak our minds freely.
I still remember the first-time I was publically silenced. Prior to that moment I held in my distrust of an English professor’s reading on a piece of American Literature for as long as I could, since as a Midwesterner I had been taught to do the opposite of what you’ve done as a senator: refrain from publically disagreeing because it’s just not polite. So, behind closed doors I discussed with a classmate the professor’s willingness to ignore the effect class and race played on the writer’s thinking. For me, to overlook those effects was to misinterpret many of the early American writers. When I finally decided to gear class discussion towards the influence class and race played on a particular writer, my professor swiftly dismissed my comments and proceeded to discuss whatever he thought was important to note. Just in case, I misread my professors coldshoulder, the next paper I wrote supported the comments on the writer that were previously dismissed in class. My first and last college paper C was given because according to this professor, my thesis was reaching for an interpretation not widely supported. As if it is a common secret the effects class and race has had on American history and its literature.
Which is why I want to egg the car of every person that is stunned by the snubbing you have received during these hearings. As if it is a common secret that Congress is last in line in its treatment of gender equity. Why is a women perceived to be overstepping because she asks tough questions? To be pointed is dubbed hysterical, which is what a former Trump campaign adviser on CNN called you. I have never watched a Congressional hearing until now, but from what I observed there has been nothing unusual about your behavior. Like all the other members you have asked time sensitive questions and pushed for the answers you were looking for. What has been unusual is the response you received from those you questioned. Who only feel nervous, or threatened when forced to answer you. Which I’m sure you are not surprised by. I am sure as a woman and person of color that you are familiar with the feigned ignorance of coded language. Which allows the speaker to deny any responsibility for their discriminatory behavior unless they’re questioned. While those on the receiving end are often made to feel like they overreacted, questioning what they did wrong, when they are sure they did everything right.
I wonder if you ever questioned rather you deserved the hostility you receive? Perhaps what you question inwardly doesn’t matter, because on the outside you don’t roll over and play dead. You push for answers.
I’m sure it wasn’t your intention to give me my weekly dose of black girl magic. In fact, when they interview you after the hearing I’m positive you’ll appoint your confidence and candor to just doing your job. But for woman of color and all woman struggling to uphold a voice, your persistence encourages us to protect ourselves in a new way. Your voice shows us that we can do more than just walk away or display astounding silence and restraint, because sometime that’s not enough.