You are 11 the first time wisdom is bestowed upon you - wisdom previously intended only for the presidents and the politicians. You had seen it all, and in your finite wisdom, you had disapproved immensely.
Between the crooked branches of trees and strong pathways that lead to a row of quaint houses, you speak with whom you presumed would be your best friend until the day you both died. Young bravado shields your sense of aging, conceals the gradual realization that all children must grow up, eventually. You are on route to your friend’s house, engrossed in the inane chatter of the small and naive when she stops. She informs you to be on the watch for her father and her brother, waving her hand in an ‘it-can’t-be-helped’ sort of way and explaining to you that they might not be welcoming as they could be a ‘bit racist’.
Cue the loud silence - enter the deafening noise of quiet that rocks you to the soles of your feet. And you’re unsure - unsure what to think, unsure what to say. Hell, unsure if there’s anything to say at all. But, finally and in such a sense of relief, you laugh and do some hand-waving of your own. You assure your friend that it's alright, that you just want to get to her house and have a nice time.
That is the year you learn the word ‘racism.’
You are 13 when the words ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ begin to have separate meanings. Within the confines of a classroom that stinks of teenage sweat, hysteria, and the cold wish to return to the younger days, you sit quietly at the front of the class. Your hands are folded upon your desk as your eyes follow your teacher. The tall, sprightly woman calls that she needs a message delivered, and you - fed up and done with the sight of boys to last you a lifetime - volunteer, along with the other 30 raised hands and shouts of “me, miss!” that shoot through the air. Your teacher, slightly flustered and taken aback by the sudden interest, takes a chance and picks the only you that there is in the room.
And then the hollers start. Your fellow classmates, whom you have begun to build trust with, yell with a kind of confident indignity that cuts you to the already-shredded pieces of your core.”It’s because she’s a girl, isn’t it?” “What a lick-arse!” “Teacher’s pet!”
You ache to ask if there is something wrong with you being chosen. Is it the racism you once learned of? Is it that you deserve no more than a spider that deserves death for the inconsequential crime of being subject to a human phobia?
A smart mouth speaks up - "It's because Ms. is a feminist!" And they laugh. They snicker. They belittle you with joyous sounds and that confidence that snaps you in half.
That is the year you learn the word 'feminist'.
And you vow to never admit to agreeing to the stupid notion that such things as 'gender equality' and 'women's rights' might just be vital in human life.
You are 15, and it is now that you know that the tongues of those said to be the country's 'voice' are silver-coated and taste of spoons no cheaper than the mortgage on your Mom's car. It is now that you have redefined cynicism to 'everyday life' and 'politics' to 'unfair'. It is now that your heart yearns for the day that you will be able to speak up, and the whole world will fall victim to that echoing silence, that shameful sort of quiet --
And that is the year that they will learn the word, 'change'.
Hey, I just wanted to say that all things written here are true, I just fancied the idea of writing in second person.