Nevertheless, She Persisted

The Founding Fathers excluded her. “We the people” was a club for men. They said all men were created equal, but they clearly believed she was not.

For more than a century, she wasn’t even allowed to vote.

She was denied an equal education and economic opportunity.

If privileged, she was yet held in servitude.

If enslaved, she was doubly horrifically abused.

In all walks of life, she was raped and beaten, and usually had no means of escape.

She was denied even the most personal choices.

Her work wasn’t even called work.

Every structural and institutional barrier was aligned against her, was constructed to stifle her, to deny her, to suppress her—and if necessary, to crush her.

She could have given up.

She could have succumbed.

She could have accepted that this was how the world worked, that this was how it always had worked.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She pursued every possible means of emancipation and empowerment.

She risked her life for others, and she risked it for her very existence.

She was raped.

She was beaten.

She was murdered.

She was told that she hadn’t been raped.

She was told to be silent or she would be beaten.

She was told to take it, all of it, or she would be murdered.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

Even when she finally began to crack open doors, she risked being raped, beaten, or murdered.

At school.

At work.

At leisure.

At home.

In spaces public and private.

By strangers, acquaintances, friends, family, and husbands.

She had to fight structural and institutional barriers, and she had to face the risks of rape, beating, and murder, and that was just to get to and stay on a field of competition where she had not been welcomed, and which was deliberately tilted against her.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

Her strength threatened the weak.

Her inspiration was derided or ignored.

Her artistry was trivialized.

Her genius was belittled.

Her achievements were credited to others.

She was treated as a child.

She was told she was wasting her time.

She was told she was wasting the time of others.

She was told that she didn’t belong.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She worked twice as hard to make half as much.

She was passed over for promotions that went to people half as qualified.

She was patronized and told what she had earned had been but given to her.

She was told her place was in the kitchen and bedroom.

She was demonized for having ambition.

She was scorned for daring to be smart and tenacious.

She was criticized for having compassion.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She was told to be sexy, then was called a slut.

She was told to be strong, then was called a bitch.

She was told to be independent, then was told she wasn’t a team player.

She was made to bear the burden not only of her own personal choices, but of men’s, also.

She was told even her own body wasn’t her own.

Her agency, her individualism, her very being made men bristle in anger and tremble in fear.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She rescued explorers whose names became household words.

She was born enslaved, and helped the enslaved find freedom.

She crawled through the carnage of war, to comfort and heal men suffering from their own monstrosities.

She was kicked to the ground for demanding to be heard.

She was jailed for sitting down.

She led historic movements that made others legends.

She was shot in the head and survived to lead the fight to prevent others from being shot.

She did every little thing, every single day, without thought of recognition or appreciation, because it needed to be done.

She stood up for strangers even when they didn’t stand up for her.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She gave birth to every one of us.

She was told she was incomplete if she never gave birth.

She was defined by her anatomy.

She was condescended to and derided and insulted and invalidated in so many ways, so many times, that she could have taken it for granted.

She learned to see it in how she was seen.

She learned to see it in how she wasn’t seen.

The history she made was omitted from the history books.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She never gave up.

She never stopped caring.

She never stopped thinking.

She never stopped learning.

She never stopped loving.

She never stopped demanding what was right, for others and for herself.

In the face of historic disaster, in the face of crushing despair, she rose up and led millions to rise beside her.

She gave people hope.

She never stopped striving to make this a better world for everyone.

And it will be, because of her.

She was warned.

She was given an explanation.

Nevertheless, she persisted.


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