Senator McConnell employed a seldom-used rule on Senator Elizabeth Warren last week, but in the end, his words unleashed a new battle cry for thousands if not millions of women.
His attempt to quiet her angered people to the point where his quote trended on Twitter and became a business enterprise of tee-shirts, cups, and demonstration signs.
He may have shut her up for the moment, but not in the long run.
This emerging battle cry pokes at tender memories of times when people attempted to shut us (women) up.
For me, the words, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” took me back to my childhood.
In the kitchen sat my uncle, the older brother to my mom. The thud of a Coors beer can hit the metal table. Something pissed him off. My aunt shooed us into the living room.
“What do you mean, school?”
Mom told him she signed up for night school to get her diploma.
“Mothers take care of their kids, they stay home. We live two hours away, who’s gonna watch them? Not strangers.”
His wife didn’t work outside the home. She took care of us during the summers, when Mom worked two jobs. Mom was divorced, four kids under nine years old.
Usually, my uncle was a loving brother, a responsible man who financially helped us whenever he could. My aunt always there with a burrito, glass of milk and a joke to make us laugh.
Mom gave him the details about night school, classes from seven to ten at night, four days a week. She had a babysitter for us, a neighbor. She could get her high school diploma in a year if she worked hard, and she promised she would.
“You don’t need a diploma to work the packing house.”
I could see her enthusiasm wane, her smile faded. She picked at her fingernails. Mom turned into a little girl before my eyes. I wanted to tell my uncle Mom worked hard, she stood for eight to ten hours, her hands sorting vegetables in a cold factory. Her plastic apron stunk, even after she washed it late at night. But he knew that already.
“I don’t want to work in the fields or a factory for the rest of my life. I want an education.”
My uncle made decent money working construction, they had a house, a car. We lived in the projects, no car and had to eat powdered eggs and have Spam for dinner.
“I can get a better job with a high school diploma, go to community college …”
His fist hit the table. “Ay, sí, college. What the hell are you thinking?”
Mom shrunk into her chair.
“You don’t even have a car,” he said.
“I’ll take the bus, like we do now,” Mom’s voice grew stronger.”Or walk.”
This scene persisted after my uncle and aunt left. A neighbor, a man who encouraged his sons to go to college, acted like my uncle when he heard Mom attended night school.
She received her diploma a year later. After that, she went to on to community college. My uncle bought her a beat up used car, but it got her to the next city to attend night classes.
Mom graduated with her A.A degree the same year I graduated from eighth grade. She scrimped and saved, sought out every scholarship, and applied for better jobs. Four years later, working full time, she earned two Bachelor of Science degrees from a Cal State University.
Nevertheless, she persisted.