Be Strong, Speak up and People Will Listen

My Senior year of high school was full of AP classes, college courses that I was taking to try to eliminate courses I would need when I actually got into college.  Everyone in my school took Psych AP.  EVERYONE.  They all said the teacher was fantastic, the course itself was so interesting and best of all most of my friends would end up in my class with me!

In high school, I wasn’t the activist I was now.  I thought a lot of things and wanted to get involved but I never really had the confidence to do so.  I remained silent.

The very first day in my Psych class, we went through the usual introductions and met our outspoken teacher.  He was the kind of teacher full of energy and willing to push the rules a slight bit….

We began our very first class discussion about the differences between men and women.  As he lectured the topic slowly shifted to the reasons why men’s sports were much better than women’s.  Men were more entertaining and better athletes.  He just went on and on and on, bringing up ‘facts’ about how all the major games are men’s sports, the majority of the money from the school is received by the men’s teams, maybe if women’s teams were better athletes, they’d have more viewers, women’s sports were a joke.

I sat there stunned.  My heart was racing and more than anything I wanted to just scream at him, how dare he say that?  Those were blatantly sexist statements!  Women’s sports were a joke???????  I just sat there dumbfounded with my mouth open, looking around to see if anyone else was as surprised as I was and I wasn’t alone.

He continued bringing up what he called ‘facts’ and finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  He said “women aren’t even in racing because they can’t do it.” and that was my last straw.  As many of you know, I was raise around Drag Racing and was always well aware of how women were viewed in the sport.

My hand shot into the air.  It was like it flew up all on its own, I had absolutely no control over it.  He paused and looked at me and said yes?  I told him “You know you’re wrong.  Shirley Muldowney began racing cars in the 1970s, she was a top fuel driver and men in the sport told her to get back to the kitchen where she belonged but she never listened to them and beat them.  Rhonda Hartman-Smith was another woman racing top fuel, Angelle Sampey races motorcycles and Melanie Troxel is coming back into the sport.  Who told you women can’t race cars?”

It just came out of my mouth and there was no way to stop it.  Just like my hand, it was a knee-jerk reaction, it just happened.  I had never spoken out like this to anyone, ESPECIALLY to a teacher or any adult in an authoritative position.  That statement stopped the few boys from laughing in the class and several more girls began to speak out.  However, it didn’t phase our teacher at all, he tried to argue with me and just make a complete joke of what I had just said.

The worst class in the entire world finally ended and I just unleashed my thoughts about this teacher to my friends who were with me.  How could everyone like him so much when he is so rude and narrow minded!!?? 

That night I went on my computer and made a list starting in the early 1900s of women in racing and their accomplishments, stapled it together and was ready for battle the next class period.

We all sat down, waiting and then he entered the room.  He started by saying he wanted to talk about yesterday’s lecture and I prepared to raise my hand again.  Then he dropped the bomb, it was an experiment, he didn’t actually believe any of what he said.  My mind was blown.  He went on to explain different concepts that applied to reactions by the class.  Then we continued our studies. He was not the horrible sexist monster I had battled with the day before!  He ended up being one of the greatest teacher I had during my high school career.

At the end of class, I went up to him and I told him I almost dropped the class! He told me that I surprised him, I seemed quiet and not the person to speak out first.  I laughed and presented him the list I made the night before to which he laughed and leafed through the pages.  He said “I like your dedication, you’re smart, you know how to argue.”

It was a long while after my senior year in high school, not until my senior year in college, that I remembered that I have a voice too.  I can speak my mind, I can argue intelligently about topic.  Instead of living a life of self doubt, lacking the confidence to say what we feel, we should all remember how capable we are and how our actions affect those around us.  I was the first to speak up in class during this experiment and after me other girls followed.  What if I had said nothing?  Would anyone have tried to say something?

Change happens when one person speaks.  That’s all that is needed, one person to raise their hand.  I’m not saying I changed the world in the slightest by that class room demonstration.   However people often say 2 things to me

1.Why do you keep talking about this stuff, nothing you do is going to change anything.

2. You should really just stop talking about this stuff.  Stop pulling out the feminist card (latina card, white card and the list goes on, who knew I was carrying so many cards with me?) every 5 seconds.  The only reason these problems like exist is because people of you keep going on and on and on and on about them.  If you just stop people will forget about it and they will be fine.

Each time these things are said to me, I remember that when one person speaks, those with similar beliefs go to them and then a group is formed.  That group grows and grows and grows until major changes are be made.  That is a fact.

I will never stay silent because as a society have the ability to change.  We have come so far, but there’s more to be done, not only in the states but around the world where women aren’t so lucky.

Don’t let lack of support or criticism of your voice ever stop you.  Be strong, speak up and people will listen.

♥ Meggie

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Dear Pablo,

This is a tough post for me.  I love my country, the U.S. and I’m so proud to be American, I”ll fly my flag and celebrate the 4th with more commitment than most holidays.

Unfortunately there are parts of our history that many don’t know about because they aren’t taught to us.  We’ve done so many things that I’m not proud of, even if some of these events happened 20 years before I was born.  They just make me want to cry.  Even current events are just as disturbing.

This video (click here) is from a short film with 11 different sections.  The film is from the U.K. called 11’09″01 September 11 and this particular section is about the 1973 coup d’etat in Chile and the dictatorship that follows.  Pablo, a Chilean singer and songwriter who was exiled from Chile, his home and never can return.  He talks about his September 11th, a Tuesday just like ours in the United States, and shows his sadness about our September 11 and what really happened during his.

He treated his people with love and respect.

However, the U.S. didn’t want a communist country, especially during the Cold War, so they created an embargo against Chile which made inflation rates rise to 300%, we promoted and organized a strike of the truck drivers in Chile which was the main form of transportation of goods in Chile and that strike crippled the entire country.  We put over 10 millions dollars into overthrowing Allende, which happened in 1973.

Allende was ordered to leave in 1973 but refused to leave the palace and his people and remained there, even as the capital was being bombed.  He said one final speech before he was shot and killed. the following is an exert of that speech, in Spanish and English

“Trabajadores de mi Patria, tengo fe en Chile y su destino.  Superarán otros hombres este momento gris y amargo en el que la traición pretende imponerse.  Sigan ustedes sabiendo que, mucho más temprano que tarde, de nuevo se abrirán las grandes alamedas por donde pase el hombre libre, para construir una sociedad mejor.

¡Viva Chile! ¡Viva el pueblo! ¡Vivan los trabajadores!

Estas son mis últimas palabras y tengo la certeza de que mi sacrificio no será en vano, tengo la certeza de que, por lo menos, será una lección moral que castigará la felonía, la cobardía y la traición.”

“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny.  Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail.  Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, great avenues will again be opened, through which will pass the free man, to construct a better society.

Long live Chile!  Long live the people!  Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.”

After that,  Augusto Pinochet took control and killed over 30,000 people and had various concentration camp through out the country.  The people were killed and tortured for no reason. Pablo, in the video linked above, states that he was shot in the knee and then beaten so badly that he lost consciousness.   Now he can never return to his home because he’s considered a treat.

He says that his people, after Allende was elected, has just found dignity and “didn’t know how dangerous that was”.

The United States is supposed to support those countries that do wonderful things for their people and support democratic choices.  Chile made an extremely bold move by holding a democratic election.  Allende was loved by his people as a leader should be, he should be loved and respected.  His people stood by him during the coup d’etat, they wanted to protect him, would we do that for our leaders?

It breaks my heart, to hate a man like Allende who took care of his people, to promote killing him just because of his political ideas.  I don’t agree with a communist political view and I don’t see how it would ever work, but if that is what a country wants and if their leader treats them properly then that is their choice.  I will not support leader that hurts their people, but Allende wasn’t one of those leaders.  He was elected and treated his people extremely well.  It just makes me want to cry, thinking of all of those who lost their lives because of our help in overthrowing Allende, all of the children who watched their families being tortured, all those victims, all those who just disappeared.  The desaparecidos, the disappeared, whose families will never know what happened to them, their children, their mothers, their fathers, their loved ones.  We fought the Nazi’s in World War II because of how disgusting they were, the torture, the killing, the concentration camps and then we support Pinochet, a man who Henry Kissinger our Secretary of State congratulated on his success, his success at killing, torturing, and his concentration camps.

To Pablo,

Your condolences are appreciated.  Your love, support and kind words in our time of need, our Tuesday, September 11th were beautiful and touching.

To you and all you have been through, to your family I offer the most sincere apologies and that will never be enough.  I’m only 21 and wasn’t even born at the time everything happened, but the 1970 election was the first time you got to vote and this is the first time I’m voting.  I’m not only considering what I need in my country, but how our decisions affect and destroy those around us.

The quote you said at the end of your video, from Saint Augustine, ““Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”  You have been one of the biggest inspirations in my life, I may not know much about yours but understanding the world around me and seeking knowledge is so important because you need the courage to change things that are wrong, especially in the States, where you can’t be hurt for your beliefs.  We of all people should be the most vocal since we have that opportunity and that power to make such a huge, wonderful, beneficial difference in the world.  We should use that power to do something positive.

Every year I will remember my September 11th and yours, when enemies of freedom destroyed your home and mine and I will remain vocal so that the United States of America will never again be that enemy of freedom.

With all the love in my heart.

Meggie