As a five-feet-two-inch, baby-boomer female, born in the United States of a Sicilian-immigrant, I’ve experienced, at various times in my life:

  • parents who believed girls shouldn’t go away to college,
  • teachers who felt threatened if I asked a question they couldn’t answer
  • an ex who believed in ‘women’s work’ and ‘men’s work’
  • bosses who said I was “too pushy”
  • men who didn’t like my “attitude”
  • women (and their husbands) who thought I was “setting a bad example”
  • fashion designers who tell me what a 60-year-old woman “shouldn’t” wear
  • doctors who assume because I’m over fifty, I’m taking medications
  • strangers who ask me if my father was in the mafia
  • a helluva lot of short jokes

Sometimes my feelings were hurt, and sometimes I felt seriously threatened. It slowed me down, it made me doubt myself, but it never stopped me. Never.

That’s why when I see people of all factions, all ages, and all sexes in a state of panic over a Black mermaid, or a 30-year-old Hispanic girl who made it to the Senate by working her way through college as a bartender, and then graduating cum laude from Boston University with a major in international relations and economics, I get it. I know why all those people sound so angry.

It’s that they’re scared. They’re scared because just as many of us, regardless of who we voted for, regardless of our background, our religious affiliations, or our sexuality, are sick of society’s pecking order. Those who are scared are scared because they have to move over for those who have overcome that pecking order, and they don’t want to, because it means they’ll actually have to be something and do something to earn that higher rung on the ladder, rather than being placed on it simply by virtue of sex, skin color, country of birth, or amount of money their parents have to pay their way through.

They are a frightened mob, and a frightened mob is dangerous. So my advice to all the Black mermaids and Hermiones in the world, all the young shakers of the status quo: Keep your wits about you, your compassion intact, and your determination on HIGH. You will be sucker-punched many times by family, colleagues, so-called friends, and even lovers. ( I know what I’m telling you) So, be prepared to check hook, and never give up. It’s very, very, VERY hard, but, as a woman who refused to stay in her designated lane, I can promise you, it’s worth it.

#BlackMermaid #ILoveAFringeFighter

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