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Just Another

It wasn't the first time I'd been called a stupid Mexican. At nineteen, working as a cashier at a chain retailer in my native Oregon in the United States, I had heard the nasty phrase plenty of times. Having been poor myself I was fairly certain the women in my line were also poor. One of the women was demanding I give her a relative's employee discount, against store policy. Even though I felt bad, I also needed my job. I was working my way through college at a private university where the tuition was incredibly high. My parents couldn't help me. I was stuck with a big fat tuition bill every semester and a fridge nearing empty. This was my primary, and best paying, job. I had to keep it.

I tried to get around the policy without success. Finally I told her I was sorry, I couldn't put it through. She continued insisting until a senior employee approved the discount for me. Relieved I turned to approve it. “She's just another stupid Mexican,” she said loudly to her companion. The other woman just nodded, her glasses hugely magnifying her eyes. It felt as though I'd been flash frozen. My lips were numb and my dulled fingertips slid stupidly over my cash register's keypad, feeling almost blue from shock. I'd certainly been called a stupid Mexican, and worse, before. But I had started college thinking I could escape it. If I went to college and took in as much knowledge as a I could, no matter the actual monetary, physical, or emotional cost I could get past being a stupid Mexican. All it took was an unhappy bitter woman in a check out line to make it feel like everything I had worked for was moot.

My brain thawed enough to come up with some snappy comebacks, all of them completely inappropriate of course, and as I handed her the receipt I could only think about needing my job. The women weren't even out the door before I bolted for the bathroom where I cried my eyes out. In the hiccuping aftermath I realized I hadn't spoken up because of fear. I had let the fear of no job and a looming tuition bill keep me from talking back. It was there I decided I had to speak up. Not just for me, but for those who couldn't. Women who are poor or oppressed. It has led me to raise money for Equality Now, a global non-profit dedicated to the equality of women and girls and ending violence and discrimination against them, for the past five years.

It has led me to World Pulse. At one time I lost my voice, but I've found it. Now I have to share it. Because there is strength in us coming together. Strength in our understanding of each other and in helping each other out of the poverty and ignorance that holds us down and pits us against one another.

Comments

noreens's picture

Hi Shinyfab, It's really sad

Hi Shinyfab,

It's really sad that the rudeness of ignorant people can have such an effect on us. I know that feeling well. And it is also sad when a person is controlled by a need for a job, and have to accept the rude comments of others in order to keep working. I feel sorry and pity for that ignorant woman because she is closing the door to a other people and missing out on the beauty of other cultures. Hold your head up high, and keep your goal of an education in mind. Change takes time.

Noreen

ShinyFab's picture

Thank you for your thoughts

Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement! It is appreciated.

Kara

IvanaG's picture

Dear Shinyfab,

I am sending you strength for your voice to get louder and you even stronger. This kind of situations can't destroy us, they can only make us stronger than what we were and more determined to reach where we are heading. Having been stuck in needing jobs, where I was killing myself giving everything I can without being appreciated and paid normally, I completely understand what you are talking about. I too had to do this for the purpose of funding my studies and although hard, difficult, sometimes even ready to quit, in the end you realize it was worth it only because you will become stronger than you ever thought you can be. Great post!

Best,
Ivana

rmweaver's picture

Reading your story, I'm

Reading your story, I'm reminded of the phrase that "the best revenge is a life well-lived". I love your tenacity and the incredibly resiliency that comes through in your story and I especially liked it when you said, "At one time I lost my voice, but I've found it. Now I have to share it." I couldn't agree more.

You have certainly found your voice and I'm so glad that you found World Pulse! I appreciate greatly your desire and drive to share your story. I look forward to hearing more of it.

All the best,
rmweaver

missjenn's picture

Hello

Hi ShinyFab,

I really enjoyed reading your story. I think you're a great story teller. Your piece flows well.

You took a huge step by speaking up despite of your fears of no job and massive tuition fees. I understand how stressful that is.

Can I ask you what you are studying? I am interested in hearing about your goals and dreams.

By the way, I'm from Oregon too!

Cheers,
Jenn

ShinyFab's picture

Hi there! Thanks so much for

Hi there!
Thanks so much for reading! I'm glad you liked it.

Really? Which part are you from? I'm from Hood River. Not sure if you're familiar with it. It's a small town located about an hour east of Portland.

I studied History and English Literature. It was a long slog, but I made it. I've been out of college for a, ahem, few years, but I'm actually getting ready to go back again. This time I'm aiming for Sports Medicine. I've been an athlete all my life and as a female athlete, I've found that much of the research is based on male athletes. The human body is an interesting and complex mechanism and not something a one size fits all attitude toward athleticism will cover. I think I could do some really good research to benefit female athletes.

Thanks again for reading.

Kara

missjenn's picture

Hey Kara

I'm from NW Portland/Beaverton area. I'm studying in Aussie right now. Sydney is amazing, but soo homesick. Miss Portland and Stumptown coffee.

Hmm, I never thought about sports-related research being based on the male body. Wow, interesting. That is so awesome what you're doing. Your research will definitely benefit female athletes.

Maybe you can study in Aussie for a bit!

Keep me posted on your research.

Cheers,
Jenn

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Just Another

Thanks for this soul stirring piece, dear brave sister. Continue your spirited actions!

Love,
Pushpa

ShinyFab's picture

Thank you for your

Thank you for your encouraging words!

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