Today has told me I am lesser than.
That I am, as a 29-year-old woman, unable to make my own decisions about my faith, my health, or my individual conscience.
That rather than work toward a depth of understanding about my deepest self, I must remain subject to others’ whims. My hard-fought realizations, decisions, needs and desires are invalid and will not be supported.
With rage and a depth of utter sadness I barely recognized, I stared at my laptop, thinking if I just read more, the words would somehow change.
That the pain and struggle and ongoing work I live within, in this body, would be honored – not so easily dismissed.
Regardless if driven by greed or ardent belief (and I’d hedge my bets on the side of avarice), I found instead that I am to bow in the most intimate of ways to my corporate overlords.
“Well, don’t work for Hobby Lobby.”
Well, now the precedent for any of my employers is that they are allowed, even encouraged, to offend and encroach both my female body and my chosen religion.
My employer, a ‘person’ as determined by this court, is empowered to force ‘their’ beliefs on me – that a purely capitalist enterprise, built to remove any responsibility from individuals, is taking on the mantle of salvific Christianity.
I’d be surprised if they even know the word Eucharist, let alone practice it.
“BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL ON AISLE THREE! DIET BODY OF CHRIST, TWO FOR ONE!”
I did not choose to be born a woman.
I did not choose to live in debilitating pain every 28 days for 15 years until I found what is now listed, in the highest court of my country, as “abortion.”
I did not choose this battle, I thought won by my mother.
But I do choose to stand.
To stand again, and again, and yet again, with those who feel this pain in ways I will never and can never know.
To be galvanized.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
~ Maya Angelou, 1978