Saturday, June 10, 2006

More From the Room of Clerks - Lasting Impressions

The older woman is back at her station in the back of the room. The younger woman sits at the front of the room and often speaks of politics and feminism and racism. She types and words fly about what it is like to be dark skinned and thin, how she's volunteered for various "get out the vote" groups. The latest effort is for a bill on the ballot that would increase funding to one of the community college districts.

As she regales the clerks with stories about how she spent election day, she says the older woman's name. "My boyfriend made a rude remark about Busby," she says. "I called him a sexist and told him that if you had been around you would have ripped him a new one."

Unseen by the younger woman, the older woman's eyebrows raise in surprise. Her fingers don't falter as she keeps working but her thoughts whirl around wondering what it is the younger ones think of her. Ripping people new ones isn't her style, unless it's absolutely necessary. Nor is she "super feminist."

She is middle aged and becoming more willing to speak up when she sees or hears things that are wrong. She is driven by the knowledge that there are girls in her extended family who need as many positive role models as they can get. Role models who can show them the world is full of possibilities, including the possibility of equality between the genders.

She tries to show by example. Show that one doesn't need a man to be a whole person, that you are born whole and remain that way your entire life. Show that it's never too early or too late to pursue your dreams, even if others think differently. Show that love exists, unconditionally and proudly, expressing itself at every turn. Sometimes she falters and sometimes she is lonely, wishing for more companionship, but she does her best and keeps the next generation in her heart praying fervently they will progress past where hers seems to have stalled.

It bothers her that the impressions gathered by her co-workers are what they are and sits in contemplation wondering if it really matters. If she has inspired one to call sexism what it is and another to learn the power of speaking up, does it matter what they think? After all, they're not entirely right but they're not necessarily wrong either.

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