I have a theory about being a third child: either you’re quiet or you make yourself heard. I grew up as the youngest of three girls. I was always talked over at the dinner table. I was always shoved into the middle seat. My opinions were stupid and insignificant, because I was little and I didn’t know things yet.
When you’re the third child, you either accept this silent status or you reject it completely. Every other third child I know is talkative, brash, loud, always the center of attention because they have to be, they just have to. I am the opposite. For the most part growing up, I didn’t mind going unheard. My parents raised two opinionated older daughters. I was the easy one, the complacent one.
My family likes to talk politics. When I was little, they would have fierce political debates during dinner. Everyone was passionate and exclaimed and gestured. My dad sat calm, the moderator. My sisters were just growing into themselves as independent women, able to form political views and communicate them effectively. They pushed back, loudly, vocally.
I was still tiny and had bangs. If something piqued my interest, I would try to interject. More often than not, my opinion was waved off by my sisters, eager to get in the next word. I would sit and look down at my plate and scream internally. My thoughts were important. They needed to be heard. And I couldn’t make anyone listen.
This Wednesday I woke up and I felt six. I am back at that kitchen table, and no one gives a damn about what I think or feel.
This election is defined by silence. It’s defined by the silent majority, who yesterday finally made their voices heard. And what an awful, hateful noise they made. The country told me to sit down when I wanted to stand up. It told me to shut up when I wanted to scream. There’s an anger deep in my stomach today. It bubbles up a million times and catches in my throat and makes the back of my eyes feel heavy with tears. But I can’t cry, I won’t cry, because crying only validates this horrible hatred I have in my gut. But I don’t want to talk about hatred. I don’t want to justify hatred. And I don’t want to talk about politics. I want to talk about humanity.
I am not a political person. But this election doesn’t even feel political to me. This feels human. This is not a battle of parties, this is a battle of human decency and kindness. Wednesday morning, two swastikas were painted on a building in Philadelphia—in honor of Trump's victory.
This isn't even close to the start of this election's hateful rhetoric. But it feels like some new, horrible beginning, and the results are more tangible than ever. We are all human beings. And we should all be afraid. To every group or community targeted by this election, I stand with you. To the women who have felt silenced, know that your voice is more important than ever.
We need to listen and we need to hear. More than that, we need to understand. We need to be kind and gentle to each other, people are so fragile and easily broken. No one should need to demand a voice.
This is not where this chapter in history ends. This is where we reject hatred and prejudice and misogyny. This is where we make our voices louder and louder until they reverberate through everything and everyone. This is when we are heard. This is the beginning, and this is when we prove the resiliency and kindness of the human spirit.