I just got off a video call with my former advisor from the college I dropped out of. It wasn’t for me. Not in this walk of life, not in this old town.
She wanted to talk to me about the stress of being an undergrad is a system that isn’t built for people of marginalized groups. In her words, it’s a hierarchy.
I dropped out because I was dealing with significant roadblocks: mental illness, learning disabilities, and personal crisis after personal crisis. It stung like a bitch to do, but I withdrew.
It really is a hierarchy. It isn’t fair to people like me: marginalized, disabled, and dirt poor.
I know the spiel for success: work hard, be confident, be unapologetic, be… Yeah. Sure. Easy to say.
As a woman, I feel we’re constantly looking over our shoulder. We’re saying sorry when others step on our shoes. We’re straightening out our outfits we so meticulously put together so we’re not showing too much cleavage or leg. We can resist, but internalized sexism is real. A man speaks, we listen and don’t challenge until we feel knowledgeable on the subject. A man bumps us, we say sorry. We are raised in mini kitchens with baby dolls in skirts and dresses (which are really not the best articles of clothing to romp around in the mud with).
As a member of the LGBT community, pride is beautiful, but we take down the rainbow flag when grandpa comes to visit. We wipe our makeup off on the train ride home. We try to stay silent and “pass”.
As a first generation college student, we don’t know who to turn to. FASFA is another language. We work just as hard as our peers, but we’re left hanging with questions. We want to succeed, but the road paved for us is rocky.
So when she told me to be angry, some fire inside of my stomach ignited. I knew to be angry to smash patriarchies and stigmas, but I felt ashamed when I was, afraid I had done something wrong.
When the woman I looked up to the most told me to be angry: an intelligent, successful, wonderful woman told me to be angry, I was. I was so. Fucking. Angry.
What if I wasn’t sorry when I spoke my truth or asked a question? What if I wasn’t sorry to sit at a table and spoke loud enough to be heard?
What if I was always angry?
What if I was angry I had to keep what I thought inside to be professional when a man would never have another person question their opinion? What if I was angry I wasn’t invited to the table in the first place? What if I was angry I felt the need to say sorry?
I’m angry, and I’m ready to climb. I’m ready to reach the platform I wasn’t born with a chance to rightfully stand on. I’m angry enough to shake that platform until we all reach even ground. I hope you join me, dear reader.
Stonewall was, after all, a riot.